The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

As Threats in Space Mount, U.S. Lags in Protecting Key Services

The United States and China are locked in a new race, in space and on Earth, over a fundamental resource: time itself.

And the United States is losing.

Global positioning satellites serve as clocks in the sky, and their signals have become fundamental to the global economy — as essential for telecommunications, 911 services and financial exchanges as they are for drivers and lost pedestrians.

But those services are increasingly vulnerable as space is rapidly militarized and satellite signals are attacked on Earth.

Yet, unlike China, the United States does not have a Plan B for civilians should those signals get knocked out in space or on land.

The risks may seem as remote as science fiction. But just last month, the United States said that Russia may deploy a nuclear weapon into space, refocusing attention on satellites’ vulnerability. And John E. Hyten, an Air Force general who also served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and who is now retired, once called some satellites “big, fat, juicy targets.”

Tangible threats have been growing for years.

Russia, China, India and the United States have tested antisatellite missiles, and several major world powers have developed technology meant to disrupt signals in space. One Chinese satellite has a robotic arm that could destroy or move other satellites.

Other attacks are occurring on Earth. Russian hackers targeted a satellite system’s ground infrastructure in Ukraine, cutting off internet at the start of the war there. Attacks like jamming, which drowns out satellite signals, and spoofing, which sends misleading data, are increasing, diverting flights and confounding pilots far from battlefields.

If the world were to lose its connection to those satellites, the economic losses would amount to billions of dollars a day.

Despite recognizing the risks, the United States is years from having a reliable alternative source for time and navigation for civilian use if GPS signals are out or interrupted, documents show and experts say. The Transportation Department, which leads civilian projects for timing and navigation, disputed this, but did not provide answers to follow-up questions.

Read more at DNYUZ

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.

© 2024 The DEFCON Warning System. Established 1984.

The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.