Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently stated that North Korea may have nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching U.S. territory within five years. You’d think the prospect of Pyongyang’s utterly unpredictable regime possessing such capabilities would be enough to create a sense of urgency in Washington, but apparently not. The Missile Defense Agency, charged with defending the nation and its allies against such threats, is considering starting over (for the fourth time) on its 30-year quest to find satellites capable of tracking ballistic threats from launch to impact. Obviously, if there’s no system for tracking such threats, there’s also no way of reliably intercepting them. The agency ought to stick with the satellite system it has already developed to host the necessary sensors, rather than reinventing the wheel. I have written an essay on this subject for Space News that can be found here.
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