Talks are underway between the US and the UK on the possibility of building a radar spy base in Scotland that will focus on keeping satellites orbiting the Earth safe from threats, US Space Force Lieut. Col. Jack Walker told the BBC.
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Walker said that the UK and US were “in discussion” in regard to placing the radars “possibly in Scotland or further south.”
The radars will have around 10 to 15 “parabolic antenna [large satellite dishes] for tracking and four to six for transmitting” and will cover an area of around 1 square kilometer (0.4 square miles).
The project is called the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC). It is being developed at the US Space and Missile Systems Center. In total, it is planned for three sites to be built: one in the UK, one in Australia, and another one in Texas.
The purpose of the base would be to “detect and track targets which could potentially be threats to our high-value assets” the colonel explained.
“It could be from the Chinese, it could be from the Russians, it could be anti-satellite or it could be debris in space,” he added.
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DARC will not be the first US spy base in the UK. Other US spy bases based in the UK include RAF Flyingdales on Snod Hill in the North York Moors which provides an early warning system for incoming ballistic missiles.
Europe Needs To Beef-Up
Earlier in June, European Space Agency Director General Josef Aschbacher said in an interview that the ESA summit for 2022 should be used to develop a space investment plan to compete with China and the United States.
“Europe has to realize that if we are not investing, we will be left out of this race,” Aschbacher said.
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The two countries will never stop investing in space — their strategic element — therefore, Europe should develop a clear investment plan for all space projects, which, along with potential new missions to the moon and Mars, are set to cover all aspects from developing reusable rocket launchers to plans for a secure communication satellite network, the official said.
To fulfill the goal, the ESA intends to gather its member states’ leaders to develop a detailed political response to growing investments in space projects on the side of Washington and Beijing.
Aschbacher said without concerted new investment Europe risks being left behind just like it was on internet technologies and artificial intelligence.
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“Europe has the expertise — clearly — but they missed the opportunity,” Aschbacher said, adding that he wants the politicians to understand that, as well as how much money is needed to keep up with the US and China.
The ESA head also noted that some 10,000 people had already applied for the agency’s latest astronaut recruitment program, adding that the deadline for applications was extended to June 18.