US to use Japanese radar to improve space domain awareness
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A deep space radar currently being developed by Japan will be utilized by the United States to strengthen space domain awareness amid strong concerns China is accelerating launches of satellites for military use, the U.S. Space Command's deputy director for policy, plans and strategy said Thursday.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Kyodo News, Brig. Gen. Jesse Morehouse said Washington hopes to strengthen information sharing on satellite detection and space debris, calling for cooperation as "we don't think that nations should be trying to dominate space."
In contrast to the United States, where space development has been spearheaded by private firms such as SpaceX, China's advances in space programs are led by the military.
Morehouse stressed that the United States and Japan are currently most focused on space situational awareness -- the capability of tracking objects in orbit and predicting their future locations -- through the use of surveillance satellites and ground-based radar.
The "vast majority" of Chinese satellites are for dual use, "meaning they have a civil government or a commercial role, but they also have a military capability," according to Morehouse, who oversees international cooperation and artificial intelligence utilization at the U.S. Space Command.
Some are equipped with arms that can grab other satellites in orbit, but China's lack of transparency has fanned fears that the country's ambitions could "potentially decrease the security in the space environment as well as other environments," Morehouse added.
To address issues with congestion and collisions as an increasing number of satellites are launched by various countries, Washington re-established the U.S. Space Command in 2019, with the military also using AI to analyze satellite movements.
In 2022, Japan officially launched the Space Operations Group as part of its Air Self-Defense Force. The group consists of two squadrons, including the Space Operations Squadron established in 2020 to oversee space situational awareness.
The United States and Japan are working to strengthen space cooperation with other countries such as Britain, France and Australia, as "domain awareness is the critical first step for us all," Morehouse said.
Morehouse expressed hopes that the information obtained from Japan's deep space radar, currently being developed in Yamaguchi Prefecture with the aim of monitoring satellites, could also be used to avoid contingencies and detect missile launches by North Korea.