US Military Announces Plans To Send Satellites To Orbit The Moon

Hannah Smith

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US Military Announces Plans To Send Satellites To Orbit The Moon

Featured Image Credit: Air Force Research Lab/Alamy

The US military is looking into putting 'spy satellites' in orbit around the moon, according to a recently shared video.

The video, which was not publicised but was spotted recently by tech website Ars Technica, is titled 'Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS)' and was published last week by the US Air Force Research Lab.

The short video explains the objective of the CHPS proposal was to extend the United States' space mission ten times higher above Earth than its current limit, explaining that 'until now, the United States space mission extended 22,000 miles above Earth.'

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'That was then, this is now,' the narrator says. 'The Air Force Research Laboratory is extending that range by ten times and the operations area of the United States by 1,000 times, taking our reach to the far side of the Moon into cislunar space.'

According to Ars Technica, details on what exactly the project could consist of are few and far between, with an explanation on the Air Force Research Lab's website consisting mostly of jargon that is pretty difficult for the average person to make any sense of.

It describes the CHPS project as a 'spaceflight experiment designed to demonstrate foundational space domain awareness capabilities in the cislunar regime.' (Me neither.)

From what people who do know about this kind of thing have been able to understand, the project already throws up some interesting questions, as it appears to essentially amount to a declaration that the United States plans to establish a military presence consisting of a network of satellites around the moon.

Render of a network of moon satellites (Air Force Research Lab)
Render of a network of moon satellites (Air Force Research Lab)

With manned lunar missions set to resume after a decades-long pause within the next 5-10 years, that's got some pretty serious implications.

'It’s the first step for them to be able to know what’s going on in cislunar space and then identify any potential threats to US activities,' Brian Weeden, director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation told Ars Technica.

The idea that the US is rapidly looking to develop its ability to monitor and surveil the moon would tally with comments made by an AFRL director earlier this year, who appeared to suggest that they had been caught on their heels by the pace of efforts to get man back on the moon this decade.

'We envisioned that there could be adversary activity out there that could pose a threat to our space systems many years ago, but we thought: ‘Oh, that’s a long way out,' Eric Ferl said. 'But there’s been so much activity.'

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Topics: Technology, Space

Hannah Smith
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