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To the Moon! U.S. Space Force’s Operational Area Just Got Much Larger

25 Sep 2020, 04:40 UTC
To the Moon! U.S. Space Force’s Operational Area Just Got Much Larger
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The Moon seen from the International Space Station. The image was taken by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli during his second mission to ‘MagISStra’ on 20 March 2011. Paolo commented on the image: “Supermoon was spectacular from here!” (Credit: ESA/NASA)

by Douglas MessierManaging Editor

I looked a bit more into this memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was signed earlier this week by NASA and the U.S. Space Force (USSF) to deepen cooperation between the two agencies. And there’s a really fascinating aspect to it.

“With new U.S. public and private sector operations extending into cislunar space, the reach of USSF’s sphere of interest will extend to 272,000 miles and beyond — more than a tenfold increase in range and 1,000-fold expansion in service volume,” the MOU said.

That’s out beyond the moon; our nearest celestial neighbor is only 238,900 miles (384,472 km) away. Previously, USSF’s authority extended the orbit of communications satellites at 22,236 miles (35,785 km).

“USSF now has an even greater surveillance task for space domain awareness (SDA) in that region, but its current capabilities and architecture are limited by technologies and an architecture designed for a legacy mission,” the memorandum noted dryly.

The MOU lists 11 areas of ...

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