US Reveals Plans for ‘Highway Patrol’ Into Space ‘Far Beyond’ Path Trodden by Satellites

© Photo : PixabayEarth, Moon
Earth, Moon - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.03.2022
Touting the importance of cislunar space, the Air Force Research Laboratory wrote in 2021 that taking into consideration new US public and private sector operations, the reach of the Space Force’s sphere of interest would now extend to “272,000 miles and beyond.”
The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has offered a glimpse into America’s ambitious plans to monitor space beyond the area where satellites traditionally orbit planet Earth.
In a recently released YouTube video, which was first reported by Ars Technica, AFRL proudly touted its Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS), hoping to target the space between geostationary orbit and the moon’s orbit.
The term "cislunar" is typically used to refer to the area more than 22,000 miles above Earth, but not much farther than the Moon ( from 225,000 to 252,000 miles away).
“Until now, the United States space mission extended 22,000 miles above Earth. That was then, this is now,” says the narrator in the AFRL video.
The video shows a rendering of a rocket launching from Earth and releasing a satellite, which zooms beyond the network of satellites in near-Earth orbit, eventually reaching the moon.
AFRL also offers an explanatory commentary to the footage, saying that space traffic to the moon is anticipated to rapidly increase in the coming decades. The lab references NASA’s Artemis missions, aiming to not only put US astronauts on the lunar surface, but establish the first “long-term presence” on the moon.
It added that a host of countries, such as China and Russia, are working on programmes aimed at sending expeditions to establish a research base on the moon.
The moon is seen during a partial lunar eclipse in Shanghai January 1, 2010 - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.03.2022
Kablam! Three Tons of Space Junk Set to Collide With Earth’s Moon
Furthermore, the video cites increasing concerns over possible collisions due to the increasing number of satellites and objects, such as space junk, orbiting Earth. About 27,000 such human-made objects are being tracked as they orbit Earth.
“The responsible use of space and unfettered access to space domain awareness ensures collision avoidance, on-orbit logistics, communication, navigation and maneuvering, all critical to the United States and allied space commerce, science and exploration.”
The video summed up that the US Space Force would ensure the peaceful development of space while keeping its missions “safe and secure.”
The Air Force Research Laboratory could award a contract for developing the Cislunar Highway Patrol System as soon as this summer, defence technology website C4ISRNET reported. It was added that the penciled-in launch date was for 2025.
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