In a fantastic piece posted over at nanowerk.com there appears to be an emerging capability that may allow key defense surveillance and communications satellites to be outfitted with a robust countermeasure against anti-satellite weaponry. Like heat seeking missiles on aircraft, anti-satellite missiles are also dominantly guided by high-end infra-red seekers. Because space is a vacuum, instead of traditional flares or BOL-IR type of expendables commonly used on combat aircraft to repel heat seeking missile attacks, this system would use “Quantum Dots,” something I had never heard of before reading this piece. You can read about Quantum Dots here- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_dot
What is so exciting about this technology is that it could be deployed on satellites already in orbit via rendezvousing a micro satellite equipped with the ability to dispense Quantum Dots nearby. These guardian-like micro-satellites would leverage America’s robust ballistic missile early warning network for command and control. Such a decoy system truly appears to be a fascinating new possibility that would give US defense satellites, which are so key to winning on today’s “net-centric” battlefield, an actual line of defense against anti-satellite attacks. Who knows, maybe the USAF’s X-37B, currently in orbit for months on end, is deploying such devices as we speak, or is acting as the test vehicle to prove such a capability before fielding it on a larger scale. Commanders and war-planners know that China is very aware of our dependency of satellites to prosecute our modern form of warfare, surely a satellite defense capability like this would be absolutely invaluable, regardless of it’s cost.
I do have one question that maybe one of my bright readers can answer for me, if anti-satellite weaponry will most likely use infra-red guidance, than why not equip American defense satellites with a laser based Directional Infra-Red Counter-Measure (DIRCM) type of system similar to those fielded on hundreds of DoD transports and helicopters including Air Force One???