America's Space Sentinels: The History of the DSP and SBIRS Satellite Systems

America's Space Sentinels: The History of the DSP and SBIRS Satellite Systems

by Jeffrey T. Richelson


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America's Space Sentinels: The History of the DSP and SBIRS Satellite Systems by Jeffrey T. Richelson

Originally published in 1999, America's Space Sentinels won the American Astronautical Society's prestigious Eugene Emme Astronautical Literature Award and quickly established itself as the definitive book for understanding a crucial component of our national defense capabilities. It focused on the emergence and evolution of the Air Force's Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite system, which came on line in 1970 and continued to perform at a high level through the turn of this century and beyond.

For this new edition, Jeffrey Richelson covers significant developments during the last dozen years relating to the deployment of these satellites, especially the struggles to develop and launch the follow-on Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS), beginning in the late 1990s and continuing up to the present. The result is a book that remains the first and best source of information regarding these vital programs.

As Richelson notes, SBIRS, like its aging but still functioning predecessor, has been designed primarily to provide instant early warning of missile launches from around the globe-particularly China, Russia, North Korea, Pakistan, India, and Iran-through the infra-red sensors carried on each satellite. But the new system—beset by hardware, software, fiscal, and political problems—has only managed to move forward in fits and starts. While it has done so, the DSP system has continued to monitor the skies above the earth; two key ground stations in Australia and Germany have closed; nuclear powers Russia and the United States conferred extensively over the so-called Y2K problem (concerned that a computer malfunction might produce false alarms of a missile attack); and worries over potential launches from nations perceived as hostile to American interests have increased substantially.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780700618804
Publisher: University Press of Kansas
Publication date: 11/20/2012
Series: Modern War Studies Series
Pages: 406
Sales rank: 1,014,819
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jeffrey T. Richelson is a senior fellow with the National Security Archive and is the author of ten books, including Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea; The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology; and A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables vii

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

List of Abbreviations xv

1 Bad News Travels Fast 1

2 MIDAS 11

3 Vindication 33

4 Nurrungar and Buckley 49

5 DSP's First Decade 63

6 Surviving World War III 85

7 Slow Walkers, Fast Walkers, and Joggers 95

8 Evolutionary Developments and Suicidal Lasers 123

9 Australia, Germany, and New Mexico 137

10 Desert Storm 157

11 False Starts 177

12 The Unwanted Option 189

13 High Now, Low Later 211

14 Future Missions 223

Epilogue 237


A Space-Based Infrared Detection of Missiles 275

B Chronology 281

C Satellite Launch listing 289

Notes 291

Bibliographic Essay 359

Index 363

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