Fwd: Re: reasons for tracking

From: Laura Grego (lgrego@ucsusa.org)
Date: Mon Aug 09 2004 - 17:13:18 EDT

  • Next message: Graham: "Re: reasons for tracking"

    Hi all,
     
    Time to pop my head in again, too.  I work closely with both Theresa and Jeffrey on space
    security issues, and have thought quite a bit about what such amateur observing groups
    mean for space security.
    Like Theresa, I'm convinced that independent observations are critical to maintaining any kind
    of secure regime in space.  So I think there is a strong inherent good in see-sat.  It is good for
    the space users in other ways, as for example, the recent satellite rediscovery shared with this list a few weeks ago.
    As to the counter question, whether groups like see-sat can be harmful to security in other ways, I think it would be
    useful to consider the distinctions between different types of surveillance information.   
     
    If the standard for being militarily troublesome is that predictions need to be good enough so that 
    North Korea could know when it was being observed overhead, well, that's a pretty low bar!  NK would
    need just enough accuracy to find passing satellite on the next pass, and to eliminate as many non-recon satellites
    as possible so that it could limit how many times a day it had to hide whatever it wanted to hide.
    North Korea likely could do this from its own territory, on lawnchairs with binoculars. It might take
    longer than with help from heavensabove, but as you all have amply demonstrated, the satellites are there for the observing.  
     
    If instead the standard for being militarily troublesome is accuracy good enough for North Korea to attack a satellite,
    that's yet another question.   It would be difficult for N. Korea to get see-sat/NORAD quality data 
    just from observations from its own territory, but as Allen Thomson has suggested, lawn chairs and binoculars 
    are available at all fine embassies, and it's likely that N. Korea etc. could gather data comparable to that of see-sat/NORAD.  
     
    Since we're a technical organization, we've tried to assess in a technical way what kinds of attacks could be made
    with data with this type of accuracy, and it's not at all clear that they would be very effective.  (We're still finishing up this work, but it should be available on our website by the end of the year.)  And, as Ted Molczan alluded earlier,
    a really dedicated adversary would get their own surveillance capability anyway.  Again, I don't think see-sat type organizations present a serious security threat, and the DOD has also repeatedly affirmed a similar opinion.
     
     
     
    Dr. Laura Grego
    Postdoctoral Science Fellow, Global Security Program
     
    Union of Concerned Scientists
    Two Brattle Square
    Cambridge, MA 02238 USA
     
    617 547 5552 x275
    
    
    
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