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Space

Iran Press TV

Revealed: US to track other countries' spacecraft

Iran Press TV

Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:34AM GMT

The US Air Force has unveiled a previously secret program for keeping tabs on other countries' spacecraft as well as tracking space debris.

The head of the US Air Force Space Command said on Friday that the US is planning to send a pair of satellites this year that would monitor other countries' spacecraft orbiting 35,900 kilometers above the Earth's surface.

General William Shelton made the remarks during the Air Force Association meeting in Orlando, Florida.

The previously classified Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) "will bolster our ability to discern when adversaries attempt to avoid detection and to discover capabilities they may have which might be harmful to our critical assets at these higher altitudes," Shelton said.

The satellites will also track space debris, Shelton said, so that orbital collisions can be avoided. However, experts say the real purpose of the program is to find out what other countries have in orbit.

"The US has a lot of very specialized and important national security satellites in the GEO region [orbits located about 37,000 kilometers above Earth] and it is very concerned about protecting those satellites … so by telling other countries that it has some ability to closely monitor objects near GEO and their behavior, the US hopes that will deter other countries from attacking its important satellites," Brian Weeden, technical advisor with the Washington-based Secure World Foundation, told Reuters in an email.

ISH/ISH



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