Britain will invest $ 34 million in small satellites and increase support for the Combined Space Operations Center.
WASHINGTON – British Defense Minister Penny Mordaunt announced Thursday that Britain's first international operation partner will be Olympic Defender, an attempt by the US Strategic Command in 2013 to strengthen deterrence against enemy space actors. More recently, emphasis has been placed on preventing the spread of space debris in orbit.
In a keynote address at the 2019 London Conference on Aerospace, Mordaunt announced that Britain will send eight ships in the next 18 months to support the Combined Space Operations Center, the military center for operational space planning on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Great Britain will invest an additional $ 34 million next year to launch a constellation of small, low-orbit satellites "High-resolution live video broadcast directly into the cockpit of our aircraft, giving pilots unprecedented combat confidence. " Mordaunt explained that he is dealing with the broader military use of small satellites. "Given the breadth of the challenge, this seems to be a relatively small initiative. But effectively we plant the acorns from which the future oaks will grow. "
She noted that Britain is a small satellite powerhouse manufacturer and operator Surrey Satellite Technology produces 40 percent of the world's small satellites.
The UK's defense bureaucracy is also being reorganized to address the growing importance of space The Joint Forces Command, which oversees medical, education, intelligence, information systems and cyber operations, becomes the Strategic Command. "It's much more than a name change," Mordaunt said helping to "think strategically." She found that the threats "are increasing in all areas," and also in outer space. "
Virgin Orbit offers launch services
To support small satellite projects, the Royal Air Force is working with Virgin Orbit, the company that owns Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Lokal, launching small satellites from the wing of a bespoke 747-400 aircraft into space.
"Science fiction becomes a scientific fact," Mordaunt said. "One day I want to see RAF pilots who earn their wings and fly beyond the stratosphere."
The UK Space Agency announced plans to invest in facilities at a British airport on June 4 to support the launch of Virgin Orbit. Mordaunt said the RAF intended to assign a test pilot to the Virgin Orbit program. The message is, "If you join our RAF, join a service where you can become an airman or an astronaut."
Virgin Orbit will seek to demonstrate "a responsive and resilient space launch," the company said in a press release. "Virgin Orbit will support a team of Artemis as a member of the partnership between a coalition of Allied nations and a team of commercial companies that has been approved by the US government." Virgin Orbit's role in Artemis will be the launch of satellites built and operated by Surrey satellite technology and other companies, with the first launch by the end of 2020.
Every launch in the Artemis project will be done with a short recall, with Virgin Orbit possibly only being notified a week in advance. "This is far faster than today's launch standards, which typically have to be planned years in advance, and run from launch sites that can only access a limited number of orbits." The company noted that it is nearly complete today impossible to guarantee access to any orbit at short notice.
"We are confident that by demonstrating the ability to rapidly and easily deploy and replace satellites in a near-Earth orbit, we eliminate the incentive for a nation to dispose of the money in the damage to another nation's satellite," said Dan Hart, President and CEO of Virgin Orbit.
Air Vice-Marshal & # 39; Rocky & # 39; Rochelle, Royal Air Force Chief of Staff, said: "If a satellite in orbit can no longer perform its function, or if a new need arises, we must start within days, if not within hours. And it is not enough to start in any orbit. We need to put the satellite into orbit where it is needed.
Virgin Orbit praised the RAF's decision to embed one of its test pilots until official approvals are received. This pilot will provide "key operational insights into the best ways to integrate the Virgin Orbit system and its unique capabilities into the planning and operation of the RAF," the company said. Virgin Orbit has recently completed an important drop test for its LauncherOne vehicle, the last major step in the development of its launch service.