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The Military Technology

Cold-War Missile Launches Military Satellite 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the swords-to-flying-swords dept.
Velcroman1 writes "At 11:49 a.m. EDT, a Minotaur IV+ rocket — essentially a decommissioned Peacekeeper missile built decades ago during the Cold War — launched the TacSat-4 satellite into orbit. Most troops today carry PRC-117 radios for communication, devices that rely on UHF transmissions. They relay calls and data back to a base station that's brought in and fixed in place, either set up on a hillside locally or carried overhead in a nearby plane. The TacSat-4 (or tactical microsatellite) lets the hundreds of thousands of military handheld radios currently in use communicate directly with an antenna orbiting in the most convenient spot imaginable: all that space overhead. 'If you're a mobile force, that requires a mobile infrastructure, the best place to put that infrastructure is in space,' said Dr. Larry Schuette, director of innovation for the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR)."
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Cold-War Missile Launches Military Satellite

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a good thing.

    • Well, it's a military comm system, so it's more like swords into sword-supporting infrastructure.
      • by Sarten-X (1102295)
        Swords into plowshares on a farm that feeds the military?
        • I can't but wonder if Peacekeeper missiles could be used to get stuff to the ISS? It would sure put to good usage things that only collect dust, expensively so.
          • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

            The Minotaur IV vehicle consists of four stages (three from the LGM-118 Peacekeeper) and is capable of placing 1,735 kilograms (3,830 lb) of payload into a Low Earth Orbit (LEO). So it'd not be that valuable for getting stuff to ISS. Progress can get 2,350 kg (5,200 lb) to ISS, ESA's ATV can get 7,667 kg (16,900 lb) to ISS.

            The missiles are being converted over to Minotaurs as they are needed, so they aren't just "collecting dust".

      • by zach_d (782013)

        so, swords into sword racks?

    • Besides... (Score:5, Informative)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.com> on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @08:55PM (#37534446) Homepage Journal

      ... we've been doing this for years. Converting USAF ICBM's into non-warhead launch vehicles isn't exactly a new practice. We've been doing this since the late 50's. A lot of early NASA launches were on ex-USAF Atlas missiles. The earlier Minoaturs were based on decommissioned Minuteman II's. Now it's the Peacekeeper's turn. One day, Minuteman III's will be retired to launch duty too. It just makes sense to do so. I remember Barbara Streisand giving a speech back in the 80's, about how buying ICBMs was wasteful because "they'd never be used". Shows what she knew. We were sending up a lot of converted Titan missiles as launch platforms during that period. So I don't know why this is news. Using these converted missiles has been a standard (and economical) practice for a long, long time now.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I remember Barbara Streisand giving a speech back in the 80's, about how buying ICBMs was wasteful because "they'd never be used". Shows what she knew.

        Well, paying military prices (for military features, like quick fueling, etc.), and constant upkeep for decades, all for eventual use as little more than commercial-class launch service (which will be cheaper by then) is a really, really poor justification. Sure, once you have them, by all means use them, but don't pretend that's a justification.

        The reason we pay for ICBMs is precisely so we can use them, and the way to use an ICBM is to threaten potential enemies; actually nuking people is a last resort.

        • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

          There is no "quick fueling" with Minuteman or Peacekeepers, they are all solid fuel rockets.

      • by Vellmont (569020)


        I remember Barbara Streisand giving a speech back in the 80's, about how buying ICBMs was wasteful because "they'd never be used". Shows what she knew.

        More than you, apparently. Much as I hate Barbara Streisand, she was right. Putting money into these ICBMs WAS a waste of money. You think launching a few satellites justifies creating these things? You've obviously not thought it through. There's the cost of the warhead, which was never, and hopefully will never be used in the first place (many of which

        • Re:Besides... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.com> on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:17AM (#37536312) Homepage Journal


          Still think this was a wise financial decision to make?

          If you need a nuclear deterrent, (and back then most people thought we did) then yes, especially compared to manned bombers. You're going to pay upfront costs for that deterrent. At least this way, you get double duty out of it.

          • by Vellmont (569020)


            If you need a nuclear deterrent, (and back then most people thought we did)

            Those people were wrong. We didn't need to build the massive, massive stockpiles of nuclear weaspons. Fear sells though.

            In any case, the argument falls apart if you have to justify it through "most people thought we needed it".

        • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

          Yes, those bombs on bombers, missiles at sea and in the ground have kept the world from having a global war for the last 60+ years.

          MAD really did bring stability to the world, events that might have triggered large wars, Cuban Missile Crisis, invasion of Hungary, invasion of Czechoslovakia, Suez Crisis, Yom Kippur War, fall of Saigon, Straight of Taiwan crisis, Korean War, were all tempered by the knowledge that escalation would lead to hundreds of millions of deaths.

          Look at the 30 Years War, the Coalition

          • by Vellmont (569020)

            Post hoc ergo propter hoc? That's the best you can come up with?

            Whether MAD made the world more stable is quite irrelevant. The weapons that have been dismantled are by definition not necessary to achieve MAD. They are completely redundant for that purpose. So they therefore were a complete and utter waste to produce.

      • by dave420 (699308)
        "We"? Were you personally doing it?
        • by gatkinso (15975)

          Haha.

          I remember arriving in Iraq, stepping off the back of a C-130, looking around, and not one of the people who said "we are going to kick Saddam's ass" were present.

      • This is classic lying right wing Republican bullshit. Find an entertainment figure that you despise, then trash what they say in order to make Democrats seem like idiots. It's called an ad hominem argument, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem [wikipedia.org] and it is a logical fallacy. It's what idiots do when they are incapable of rational discourse.

        Over here in the real world, the Republicans are the anti-science, anti-intellectual party. That is not an opinion, it is an observation based on factual information. Wa

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's called an ad hominem argument, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] and it is a logical fallacy. It's what idiots do when they are incapable of rational discourse.

          Danger Will Robinson! I detect abnormally high levels of hypocrisy in the area!

        • by DesScorp (410532)

          "This is classic lying right wing Republican bullshit. Find an entertainment figure that you despise, then trash what they say in order to make Democrats seem like idiots. "

          Lying? She said this on a televised fundraiser she threw, with lots of celebrities in the audience ( I don't know why, but I remember the camera panning in on Bruce Willis in particular).

          Note: I went and looked it up, and it was her One Voice concert [barbra-archives.com] in 1986, done specifically to raise money for Democratic candidates for the Senate.

          "So t

      • ... we've been doing this for years. Converting USAF ICBM's into non-warhead launch vehicles isn't exactly a new practice. We've been doing this since the late 50's.

        Very true - Mercury and Gemini depended on the Redstone, Atlas, and Titan as launch vehicles (although the Redstone was not an ICBM but a short range surface to surface missile and the manned Titans were built as a civilian variant; I don't think any Gemini flights used former ICBMs although satellites launches did). Without the military's building and testing of the missiles it would have taken a lot longer to get to Apollo. Many of NASA's sounding rockets relied on military hardware as well, such as the N

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Yea they have been doing since well the first space launches.
        Sputnik used the R-7 ICBM as a launcher. Still in use today as the Soyuz launcher in an updated and modified from.
        Explorer 1 was the launched using a modified Redstone SRBM.
        Atlas ELV == Former Atlas ICBM also used to launch the first Mercury orbital mission.
        Delta= modified Thor IRBM.
        Titan Family used to launch Gemini, Viking, Voyager I, Voyager II and many others descended from the Titan I and Titan II ICBMs.
        The Proton was developed as a super hea

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      You do realize of course that you could describe Sputnik in the same terms.

      Nearly all of the early rocket programs were for military use.

      The idea of putting something other than munitions on a rocket was pretty much an afterthought.

    • Oh cool, so now the military can tap 1 white mana to Remove target creature from the game entirely. Creature's controller gains life points equal to creature's power
  • The last word of this story title could have been much worse.

    Let's examine the spectrum from:

    Cold-War Missile Launches Military Assault
    to
    Cold-War Missile Launches Military Baby Shower

    • by fotbr (855184)

      Cold-War Missile Launches Military Baby Shower
      That would be a hell of a baby shower...

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Cold-War Missile Launches Military Baby Shower

      Yeah, but what is the ICD10 code for that?

  • Satellite launch cold-war missile.

  • by Alien Being (18488) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @08:30PM (#37534278)

    I'm just playing on one of my favorite films,

    Dr. Strangelove [imdb.com]

    And one the silliest made-for-tv movies,

    Slavage 1" [imdb.com].

    Actually maybe old Jed really did know a good cracker when he tasted one. MMM, MMM!

    • by Temkin (112574)

      Salvage 1 was actually a TV series... I remember its cancellation being one of my first introductions to the stupid inner workings of network TV as a pre-teen... The funny thing is... Completely out of the blue, I remembered that show today, but I was trying to remember it's name, and here you brought it up of Slashdot... Thanks!

      It doesn't seem to be available on Hulu or Netflix, so I can't go back and see how corny it probably was...

      • I don't remember watching any of the series, just the pilot movie which was apparently called "Salvage". There are a few clips of the movie and the series on youtube.

  • This is a great way to demonstrate to the rest of the world that our old munitions are still capable.
    • by Amouth (879122)

      and who exactly are we in need of showing this to? the rest of the world with ICBM's would expect nothing less as they would be in the same situation as us, and the ones that don't have ICBM's know we would never use them against them because of the international fallout that would accompany it.

  • The next war will be in space. He who controls orbit controls the planet. With control of orbital communications and weapons in support of ground troops it will be impossible to resist. We waste too much money building weapons to fight the last war. On to the next one.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We waste too much money building weapons to fight the last war.

      And so you've figured out part of the business plan of the "defense" industry.

    • The next war will be in space.

      Or possibly at the top of a very tall mountain. Either way, most of the actual fighting will be done by robots. Our mission is clear.

      • by sempir (1916194)

        A war in space would be cool........the sky above me is as boring as hell at the moment, and I love firework displays.

  • The Soyuz rocket is based on the R-7, the first soviet ICBM.

    IIRC a modified R7 launched Sputnik, and well, they still launch Soyuz.

    I wonder if Brazilian truckers will figure out how to use this satellite.

  • If you're a mobile force, that requires a mobile infrastructure, the best place to put that infrastructure is in space

    Or you could use use high-altitude aircraft for a tenth of the price. Satellites were a lot easier to justify when they were impregnable, but that hasn't been the case for awhile now, at least for low orbit.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Another thing is the transmission itself. Have your field radio reach the satellite instead of an overhead plane is a lot harder. I'd expect it takes more power too, which means bigger batteries or shorter battery life which both are not good for the soldier in the field.

      But of course as soon as that satellite is there you're good. It has it's advantages over a plane that has to stay airborne nearby, or having a team following you with a base set.

  • Sure, overhead is great and a good idea, particularly if it's only a few hundred miles up. But for a satellite to stay in place it has to be parked 22,000 miles over the equator. That means it takes more power to talk to, but most importantly that space is in very high demand. Any lower and it doesn't stay put over the battlefield, it orbits at a different speed than the earth's rotation. So to be really useful for this type of use you need several in orbit so that you can always get to one.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      In other words, Iridium [wikipedia.org].
    • TacSat isn't in geosync:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TacSat-4#Mission [wikipedia.org]

      TacSat-4 will fly the highly elliptical, 4-hour, orbit (12,050 kilometers at peak) providing typical payload communication periods of two hours per orbit. TacSat-4’s orbit also allows it to cover the high latitudes.

      TacSat was launched to allow coverage to existing military radios in locations not served by other satellite constellations.

      • Also:

        Part of its capability is rapid (within 24 hours) reallocation to different Theater (warfare) theaters worldwide, in support of unexpected operations. Command and control of TacSat-4 will be performed at the NRL Satellite Operations Center at Blossom Point, Maryland. Payload tasking will be performed via the SIPRNet based Virtual Mission Operations Center (VMOC).

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          That makes sense. A satellite in a highly eliptical orbit can change its orbit much less expensively than one in a circular orbit. When it is high up its velocity is low and so your delta-v gets you a lot more bang for the buck (changing inclination/etc). When it is low to the earth you basically benefit from the slingshot effect if you want to change the orbital period.

          Disclaimer - I'm an amateur when it comes to these things...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Lost in this conversation is that this is part of the new usage for the Kodiak, Alaska launch facility. This program will be the launch point for many future educational and experimental satellites as they intend to focus on pico and microsats. With the cubesat program and these re-purposed launch vehicles they were talking $50k to put a project in space.

  • So I'm wondering if 900 lbs. would be enough for a tiny capsule, with minimal life support, to get a single person into orbit.

    Of course this would probably preclude the use of any sort of re-entry shield or system and would make this a one way trip. Still this might have a few (desperate) applications, like sending up some rescue personnel to an orbiting spacecraft or the ISS. Or maybe there would be some more clandestine James Bond-esque application like the hijacking of an orbital vehicle.

    On the other h

    • by andycal (127447)
      I'll bet the launch g-forces are way to high. ( the B in ICBM is balistic which I believe describes most of the flight ) plus, the thing probably doesn't nearly approach safety standards for human flight.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        "I'll bet the launch g-forces are way to high. ( the B in ICBM is ballistic which I believe describes most of the flight )"
        Just what does that have to do with anything? Just about any none winged rockets flight is ballistic! Ballistic has nothing to do with g loading.
        Guess what the rocket that is used to put the Soyuz in orbit is a converted ballistic missile called the R-7.
        The rocket that put John Glenn in orbit was a converted ballistic missile called the Atlas.
        The rocket that put the Gemini capsules in o

        • I don't know why andy thought the Ballistic part was important to mention, but he does have a point about G-limits. The human body can only endure so much acceleration before it essentially turns to mush. A number of non-human-rated launchers are desgined to deliver payloads fast, hard, and quickly (that's doubly true for missiles that are designed to kill shit before their launch is detected). That said, the G-loading on the peacekeepers is probably well above safe-limits for the human body to endure. Of c
          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            Well It looks like about 4.6g at launch I don't have the stage weights and odds are very good that they do have them cores reduce thrust as they burn so yeah it would probably be a rough ride at best. It is the term ballistic that I found odd,

    • So I'm wondering if 900 lbs. would be enough for a tiny capsule, with minimal life support, to get a single person into orbit.

      Probably.

      Maybe.

      You're talking about 700 pounds once you'e made allowance for the passenger. Which is a bit tight.

      On the other hand, Mercury, sans heat shield and a lot of electronics (which are, of course, much lighter now) didn't weigh much more than that. And we have better material technology now, so a lighter mercury might be doable in 900 pounds.

      Note, for reference, that a

  • I guess soon the ONR will be "rebranded" into ONI - Office of Naval Intelligence and this is just the begining. Get ready to kick some Covenant asses!!!

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