These are two follow-ups, one closing out one of last week’s posts and one continuing a post I wrote in February.
First, the geckos. I wrote last week about the Russian geckos that were sent into space on a satellite. There was supposed to be some kind of “gecko orgy” that Russian scientists were interested in. They were curious about how a a micro-gravity environment affects gecko sex habits. But the problem was the satellite on which the geckos “love pad” is situated didn’t respond to any kind of commanding from the people on the ground. So there was potential for the geckos, and other critters on the satellite, to die of starvation and then get fried during an uncontrolled satellite re-entry.
But that didn’t happen, and according to this AJC post, it looks like it’s not even likely anymore. Commanding of the satellite has been established again, and the scientists are free to watch their gecko porn. And “The Simpsons” have another unlikely and outlandish scenario for Homer to take a lead in. Mark my words.
Just as important, the United States Air Force launched three satellites into orbit yesterday. Two, the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites, were supposed to be Top Secret Ultra Triple 3 Hush. But good old General Shelton, who retired just yesterday, decided the public needed to know about them and just dropped information about the satellites last February.
I wrote about the GSSAP satellites in February for Clearancejobs.com, and also speculated a bit about the reasons why the USAF might be the wrong organization to be running the mission. The USAF is labeling the mission of the two satellites as being a “watch-dog.” This is the basis for my argument about why the mission needs to be moved to a civil space authority. If the USAF noted objects in space with GSSAP, that are a hazard to other space-faring nations, but kept them secret for military advantages, then their mission is not that of a “watch-dog.” It would be more NSA-like, which isn’t a good reputation for my former military service to adopt.
The other satellite launched yesterday? It’s an experimental satellite operated by the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL). It’s part of Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space (ANGELS) program and according to this AF.mil post, it will “… test new space situational awareness techniques and technologies while performing safe, automated spacecraft operations to support and enhance future U.S. missions.” This seems to be in line with the GSSAP satellite mission, so it might be an experimental satellite which has test sensors to be used eventually on future GSSAP satellites. As near as I can tell, some of the research from not only ANGELS, but MidSTEP programs may have helped form GSSAP from past experiments. But, ANGELS will be the experimental satellite for the AFRL to play around with for now.
Just how good will these satellites be at space surveillance? The USAF seems to think they’ll be great. But maybe the USAF is missing an opportunity. Maybe they can also use them to bridge the current diplomatic kerfuffle with the Russians. Maybe, just maybe, the GSSAP satellites could check in on the geckos. Peek in the window, if you know what I mean.