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space force sets up section to track space objects

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Old January 21st 21, 01:33 PM posted to alt.astronomy
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Default space force sets up section to track space objects


Section 31: The Military Coders Who Hacked How We Track Objects in Space

MJ Banias
21 Jan 2021
The Debrief

With many nations viewing outer space as the next battleground,
intelligence gathering becomes an essential component of maintaining
friendly space operations. As world govts build up their
presence outside of Earth's atmosphere, a group of coders has hacked
its way into keeping track of all those orbiting objects, both known
and unknown.

Named after the super-secretive intelligence agency from Star Trek,
the very real Section 31 is a team of military coders that develop
sophisticated software for the US Space Force's Space Command and
Control Program Office, nicknamed Kobayashi Maru (another allusion to
Star Trek referring to an unwinnable battle scenario that, according
to the show's lore, Captain Kirk hacks to defeat). ...

Science fiction references aside, Kobayashi Maru and the coders from
Section 31 keep their eyes on space and ensure that whatever is up
there, they know about it. ...

In Dec of last year, the United States formally founded the US
Space Force as an independent branch of the armed services. While some
have questioned the need for an 8th military branch, the overall
mission is to be proactive in that arena for any possible national
security issues. The Space Force would argue its mission is to keep
space safe and ensure that it remains that way. ...

"Space Domain Awareness is the `identification, characterization, and
understanding of any factor, passive or active, associated with the
space domain that could affect space operations and thereby the
security, safety, economy or environment of our nation,'" Sawicki
explained. In simple terms, if it is in Earth's orbit, Kobayashi Maru
wants to know about it.

The problem is the space domain's size and scope and the fact that
Earth's orbit is littered with a lot of stuff. According to the
European Space Agency, over 29,000 objects 10 cm or larger are
orbiting the Earth. This ranges from space junk to satellites. Keeping
track of all that is difficult, and it used to take hours to sort out
which object belonged to which country or where a specific piece of
debris was headed next. Needing a faster response time to gather
better intelligence on a given object and the software to do it
effectively, the Space Command and Control Program Office brought in
Palantir, a Silicon Valley based data-analytics software company, and
a team of military coders to build out a more effective system. ...

Also known as Space Board, Metroid is a "High Interest Event Tracker"
that "monitors, tracks, and displays potential high-interest events of
space assets providing warfighters a clear picture for Space Command
and Control (C2) and space domain awareness (SDA)." ...

"I believe that the systems that are helping monitor the space domain
in general and provide the needed space for space traffic management
are essential for national security--much like our ATC [air traffic
control] system," Blake told The Debrief. Unknown objects, much like
unidentified aircraft, require the owner to claim ownership.

"An unknown object in space is traced backward in time using orbit
prediction methods to try and determine a point of origin that matches
another object that was in the point in space at the same time in the
past--usually a known space launch. It could also be another
spacecraft in a break-up or separation event. If there is no
verifiable match, then the object remains unknown until someone claims
it," Blake stated.


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