What Can 24 Satellites Do for U.S. Missile Defense?
(Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies; issued Oct 18, 2018)
Despite some missile defense advocates' claims that 24 satellites could form the basis of a boost-phase space-based missile interceptor (SBI) system, many physicists do not agree.

A better question is how could a satellite constellation of this size best contribute to U.S. missile defense?

-- A 24-satellite constellation is too small for boost-phase missile defense. Hundreds or thousands of satellites would be needed to provide continuous coverage of even a small threat region like North Korea.

-- A similar constellation could work for limited midcourse-phase missile defense, but not all threat regions could be covered by the same architecture and midcourse intercepts are difficult, requiring detailed tracking and target discrimination data to avoid being fooled by decoys.

-- A constellation of this size would work, however, for space-based sensor (SBS) systems, which could observe missiles during their midcourse phase as long as they can maintain line-of-sight contact.

Click here for the full report (5 PDF pages) on the CSIS website.


prev next

Official reports See all