US Satellite Project “Silent Barker” Set To Counter Adversarial Space Assets

US Satellite Project “Silent Barker” Set To Counter Adversarial Space Assets

Date:

This summer, the US Space Force plans to deploy a network of satellites, called “Silent Barker,” designed to monitor potential threats from Chinese or Russian space assets that could harm or interfere with objects in orbit. This development marks a significant escalation in the extra-terrestrial competition among these global powerhouses. Silent Barker will stand as a pioneer, supplementing terrestrial sensors and low-earth orbit satellites, per insights from the Space Force and specialists. The plan is to station these satellites in a geosynchronous orbit—approximately 22,000 miles above the Earth, rotating at the same speed as the planet.

The Space Force is collaborating with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in developing the satellites and has said that this capability offers valuable warning signals against threats to US systems and that this will “provide capabilities to search, detect and track objects from space for timely threat detection.” The Silent Barker launch date is slated to take place in a few months. This launch will be executed by the Atlas V booster run by United Launch Alliance, a collaboration between Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. The NRO will announce the exact launch date 30 days prior on social media channels Facebook and Twitter.

Silent Barker comes as a countering force to the attempts made by China and Russia to create systems capable of entering orbit and neutralizing other satellites, a threat of magnified consequence for the United States and allies alike. Sarah Mineiro, a former high-ranking staff member on the strategic subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversaw space programs, highlighted that the new constellation “will dramatically increase Space Force’s ability to track on-orbit, adversary satellites that could be maneuvering around or in proximity to our satellites.” Silent Barker will rectify the inadequacies of terrestrial or lower-orbit surveillance systems, enabling the US to “really figure out what is going on up there in space,” she added.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently noted in its annual threat assessment that China has arsenals intended to target US and allies’ satellites, adding that “counterspace operations will be integral to potential PLA military campaigns,” referring to Chinese forces (People’s Liberation Army).

In 2021, China successfully launched the SJ-21 satellite, which later relocated a decommissioned Chinese satellite several hundred miles higher in orbit. Another Chinese satellite, the Sijian-17, is equipped with a robotic arm that “could be used for grappling other satellites,” as reported by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2022. Gen. James Dickinson, Chief of the US Space Command, testified before Congress in March, indicating the SJ-21 “could clearly serve in a counterspace role and hold our geosynchronous satellites at risk.” Silent Barker aims to keep a check on satellites such as the SJ-21 as it strives to “detect and identify new objects,” stated the Space Force. Details regarding the exact number of satellites within the Silent Barker constellation have not been disclosed by the Space Force and NRO, only specifying that it will comprise “multiple space vehicles.”

Liam Fegan
Liam Fegan
Lockheed Martin Financial Analyst since June of 2018. If you want a better life, raise your standards and don't compromise them.
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