Space force

Space Force plans to send patrol probe beyond the Moon

The US military plans to expand its reach into space to one day patrol the area around the moon.

In a new video, the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has revealed the US military’s big plans for future work in space. Those plans, as seen in the video, include expanding space awareness capabilities beyond geostationary orbit using a new satellite called the Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS). It’s a lunar patrol probe that the military plans to launch into cislunar space, a large area around Earth that extends beyond the Moon’s orbit.

“U.S. space mission so far spanned 22,000 miles [35,400 kilometers] above the Earth,” the video reads, referring to the altitude at which geostationary satellites fly. “That was then; it is now.”

“The Air Force Research Laboratory extends that range 10 times and the U.S. area of ​​operations 1,000 times, extending our reach across the moon into cislunar space, well into beyond the crowd,” the video’s narrator continued.

Related: What is Space Force?

Live updates: NASA’s latest Artemis 1 lunar mission in action

A visualization of the US Army’s CHPS satellite that will monitor cislunar space. (Image credit: US Air Force Research Laboratory)

CHPS is “a spaceflight experiment designed to demonstrate fundamental spatial domain awareness capabilities in the cislunar regime”, according to the AFRL website. The laboratory will carry out the development of the satellite within the framework of the CHPS program. The probe will then be acquired by the United States space force be used by the US Space Command, which oversees military activities and operations in space.

So what will the US military do with a satellite coming out of the moon?

“It’s the first step for them to be able to find out what’s going on in cislunar space and then identify any potential threats to American activities,” said Brian Weeden, director of program planning for Secure World. Non-profit foundation. says Ars Technica on the program. Weeden clarified that he does not believe the probe will be used to respond to threats in space but rather for observation purposes.

The AFRL video highlights efforts by agencies like NASA to return to the surface of the moon and other ‘interplanetary destinations’, as part of the push to expand the reach of military surveillance in cislunar space. The video says these missions to the Moon and beyond “will increase space traffic to the Moon many times over over the next few decades.”

CHPS “will bypass thousands of government and commercial satellites as it heads into a previously seldom-visited area 272,000 miles away [438,000 km] of the Earth,” the video adds.

“The US Space Force will ensure the peaceful development of space, keeping our missions safe and secure in these distant frontiers,” the video reads. “Responsible use of space and unfettered access to space domain awareness ensure collision avoidance, in-orbit logistics, communication, navigation and maneuvering, all essential for commerce, science and space exploration of the United States and its allies.”

The AFRL will issue a request for proposals for prototypes for the CHPS satellite on March 21 and reveal which proposal won the contract in July, the lab shared in an emailed statement.

Email Chelsea Gohd at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.