The Russian Defense Ministry has carried out a test launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile RS-24 Yars towards a proving ground in the Kamchatka Peninsula. All tasks have been coped with.
“At the experimental space site Plesetsk a combat crew of the Yoshkar-Ola missile unit carried out a test launch of the solid propellant mobile-based intercontinental missile (ICBM) RS-24 Yars with a multiple re-entry vehicle.
The warheads reached the designated area at the Kura proving ground in the Kamchatka Peninsula,” the Defense Ministry said. “All tasks have been coped with in full.”
The purpose of the launch was to reaffirm the reliability of a batch of missiles of this class.
“Strategic missile forces practiced the procedure of redeploying a battery of the mobile system Yars to a remote region, preparations for and the launch proper,” the Defense Ministry said.
On September 12 the Strategic Missile Force test-launched a silo-based RS-24 missile with a multiple warhead from Plesetsk. The experimental warheads reached the designated area at the Kura proving ground.
The RS-24 ICBM was designed by the All-Russia Thermal Engineering Institute. It is based on the same scientific and technological solutions as the Topol-M missile, which allowed for considerably reducing the research and design phase and costs.
Currently this missile systems are on duty at five missile units located on a vast area from the Ivanovo region in the west to Irkutsk, in the east.
Friday’s missile test follows the release of a statement Wednesday, in which the North Korean state news agency KCNA threatened the “four islands of the (Japanese) archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche,” referring to the ruling ideology of North Korea.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the launch was “totally unacceptable” and went against “the international community’s strong, united will for a peaceful solution.”
Launch and response
North Korea’s latest missile was fired from the district of Sunan in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, home to the country’s main airport, the South Korean military said.
The missile flew about 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) and reached an altitude of 770 kilometers (480) miles before landing in the Pacific Ocean.
In response to North Korea’s launch, South Korea carried out a “live fire drill” that included a missile launch which the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said was capable of striking the Sunan airport launch site near Pyongyang used for today’s launch.
The South Korean missile, which was launched from the country’s east coast while the North Korean missile was still in the air, was “a show of force in response to North Korea’s latest provocation,” a South Korean official told CNN.
A second missile that was fired at the same time failed and “sank into the sea off the east coast,” an official said.
Park Soo-hyun, spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said the country’s military had been ordered “to prepare a stern measure that can effectively counter North Korea’s increasing nuclear and military threats.”
Japan on high alert
Friday’s missile test set off sirens as a government warning, known as the J-Alert, went out to citizens across a broad swath of northern Japan.
“The government is advising people to stay away from anything that could be missile debris,” NHK reported.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the missile test was the second time the people of Japan “have been directly threatened in recent weeks.”
“The international community needs to unite and send clear message after North Korea’s dangerous provocation,” Abe told reporters. “We must let North Korea understand there is no bright future for North Korea if it continues in this way.”
He said the Japanese government tracked the launch of the missile and “took all possible measures.”
Japan and the US have requested the UN Security Council hold “urgent consultations” at 3 p.m. ET Friday, according to the Ethiopian Mission to the UN. Ethiopian Ambassador Tekeda Alemu is the current UN Security Council president.
Those sanctions were prompted by North Korea’s sixth nuclear test that occurred on September 3, which Pyongyang said was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb.
That explosion created a magnitude-6.3 tremor, making it the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested.
The nuclear test prompted discussions inside South Korea about the the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons in the country, an idea that the majority of the country’s citizens approve of, according to recent polls.
But on Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in dismissed the possibility, warning it could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.”
Both Abe and Tillerson called for an intensifying of pressure on North Korea, including the full implementation of the new UN sanctions.
“These continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation,” Tillerson said.
“United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution, represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take. We call on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime.”
He singled out Chinese oil supplies and Russia’s use of North Korean migrant workers as two areas in which the two countries could take “direct action” against North Korea.
2017 has been a year of rapid progress for North Korea’s missile program.
Less than six years into his reign, Kim Jong Un has tested more missiles than his father and grandfather combined. And this year has been no exception.
Prior to its most recent launch, the country has fired 21 missiles during 14 tests since February, further perfecting its technology with each launch.
There’s also a political aspect to the tests, analysts say.
“This new missile test … is both a reaction to the stringent UN sanctions of Monday evening and a wake-up call about the limits of sanctions and military threats as a way to change North Korea’s behavior,” said George A Lopez, a former member of the UN Security Council panel of experts for sanctions on North Korea.
He said Trump should use his speech to the UN General Assembly next week to “demonstrate US leadership in loyalty to all allies in the region and state our commitment to developing new and vibrant security guarantees for all states, including (North Korea), that are not based on the threat or use of nuclear weapons.”
The White House has been pursuing a strategy of what it calls “peaceful pressure” in dealing with North Korea — trying to build a global coalition to squeeze North Korea’s revenue and isolate it diplomatically so it will eventually put its missiles on the negotiating table.
China has been key to that strategy, as Beijing accounts for nearly 90% of all of North Korea’s imports, according to recent data from the United Nations.
Hours before the launch, Trump touted his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and their collaboration in addressing North Korea’s rapidly escalating missile and nuclear programs.
“We have a very good relationship with China and with the President of China. We are working on different things,” Trump said. “I can’t tell you, obviously, what I’m working on. But believe me, the people of this country will be very, very safe.”
CNN’s Taehoon Lee, Junko Ogura, Paula Hancocks and Richard Roth contributed to this report.
President Donald Trump on Thursday said military action against North Korea remains an option to counter its nuclear missile program, speaking ahead of a weekend when Pyongyang is expected to make another provocative move advancing its effort.
“Military action would certainly be an option,” Trump said at a White House news conference alongside the leader of Kuwait. “Is it inevitable? Nothing is inevitable. It would be great if something else could be worked out.”
Claiming that the U.S. military is stronger than ever with the addition of “new and beautiful equipment,” Trump added, “Hopefully we’re not going to have to use it on North Korea. If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea.”
He concluded, “North Korea is behaving badly, and it’s got to stop.”
Pressure has mounted on Trump to respond as North Korea appears to be getting closer to building a nuclear weapon small enough to be compatible with a missile that can reach the United States.
North Korea appeared to carry out its sixth and most powerful test explosion of a nuclear bomb on Sunday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the escalating crisis over North Korea’s weapons program risks developing into a “global catastrophe” with mass casualties.
But Putin, speaking in China on Tuesday, cautioned against “military hysteria” and said that the only way to resolve the crisis was through diplomacy.
He warned that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has calculated that the survival of his regime depends on its development of nuclear weapons. Kim had seen how western intervention in Iraq had ended in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein after which the country was ravaged by war, Putin warned, and Kim was determined not to suffer the same fate.
“Saddam Hussein rejected the production of weapons of mass destruction, but even under that pretense, he was destroyed and members of his family were killed,” Putin said.
“The country was demolished and Saddam Hussein was hanged. Everyone knows that and everyone in North Korea knows that.”
On Monday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Kim was “begging for war” and urged the UN Security Council to adopt the strongest sanctions measures possible to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
But speaking at the closure of the BRICs summit in Beijing — which hosted the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa — Putin said that while Russia condemned North Korea’s latest actions, imposing any kind of sanctions would be “useless and ineffective.” Kim would rather starve his people than see his regime overthrown, he said.
“They will eat grass but they will not turn away from the path that will provide for their security,” he said.
The latest escalation of the crisis came on Sunday when Pyongyang announced it had conducted a sixth nuclear test, which it claimed was of a hydrogen bomb. The claim has not been independently verified, but seismological data indicated that the weapon was the most powerful ever to be detonated by Pyongyang.
North Korea claims it now has the capability of mounting a thermonuclear weapon on a long-range missile capable of striking the United States.
Weapons experts say it’s almost impossible to verify if the warhead and missile could be successfully paired unless North Korea were to fire a nuclear-tipped ICBM.
Putin said it was clear that Pyongyang already had a nuclear capability — and in any case, no missile defense system could offer adequate protection against conventional long-range artillery.
“We know that North Korea has nukes, we also know that North Korea has long-range artillery and it has other types of weapons and there are no weapons against long-range artillery — and these weapons can be difficult to locate.
“So we think that this military hysteria will not lead to good results. It could lead to global catastrophe with lots of victims.”
In response to the latest tests, the South Korean Navy announced Tuesday it conducted live-fire drills off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula to check its “immediate operational readiness” after the country’s air force and army conducted their own joint drills. It had already mounted a huge show of military force on Monday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke with US President Donald Trump on Monday and agreed to lift current restrictions on the payload weight of South Korea’s ballistic missiles, according to a South Korean presidential spokesman.
CNN’s Taehoon Lee, Josh Berlinger and Sarah Faidell contributed to this article.
South Korea has convened a national security council meeting following a shallow earthquake in North Korea. The quake came shortly after Pyongyang announced it had developed an advanced hydrogen bomb.
North Korea may have conducted a nuclear test, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday. The quake appeared to have been manmade, Yonhap added, suggesting that Pyongyang had conducted a sixth nuclear test. South Korea’s military also called the tremor “artificial” and added it was analyzing whether a nuclear test took place.
China’s Earthquake Administration said on Sunday it detected a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in northeastern North Korea that was a “suspected explosion.” The United States Geological Survey called the quake a “possible explosion.”
Past North Korean nuclear tests have resulted in earthquakes.
North Korea announces new H-bomb
The quake came shortly after Pyongyang announced it had developed a thermonuclear weapon with “super explosive power,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) claimed, citing leader Kim Jong-Un as saying “all components of the H-bomb were 100 percent domestically made.”
The KCNA said Kim had inspected such a device at the Nuclear Weapons Institute, with pictures showing him in a black suit examining a metal casing.
North Korea has “further upgraded its technical performance at a higher ultra-modern level on the basis of previous successes made in the first H-bomb test,” the KCNA said.
Pyongyang triggered a new escalation of tensions in July after it carried out two successful tests of an ICBM, the Hwasong-14, bringing much of the US mainland within range. Japan has also called for a concerted international effort to put an end to the “growing threat” posed by North Korea’s nuclear program.
US President Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following the North Korean announcement, the White House said.
“We completely agreed that we must thoroughly coordinate with each other and with South Korea, and cooperate closely with the international community, to increase pressure on North Korea and make it change its policies,” Abe told reporters
Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Saturday they plan to revise a 43-year-old joint treaty that caps the number and range of South’s ballistic missiles.
Trump and Moon also discussed North Korea’s “continued destabilizing and escalatory behavior,” the White House said in a statement.
Trump has warned that the US military is “locked and loaded” and that North Korea would face “fire and fury” in the event of further provocation. North Korea said the test fire of a missile that flew over Japan was a “curtain-raiser” for its “resolute countermeasures” against ongoing US-South Korean military drills.
“Though we cannot verify the claim, [North Korea] wants us to believe that it can launch a thermonuclear strike now, if it is attacked,” Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told Reuters news agency.
Pyongyang’s assertion that “this warhead is variable-yield and capable of specialized weapons effects implies a complex nuclear strategy,” Mount added. “It shows [North Korea] is not only threatening assured destruction of the US and allied cities in the event it is attacked, but also is considering limited coercive nuclear strikes, or is seeking credible response options for US ones.”
Questions remain over whether Pyongyang has miniaturized its weapons and whether it has a working hydrogen bomb.
In January 2016, Pyongyang claimed the device used – its fourth test – was a miniaturized H-bomb. Scientists believe the six-kiloton yield achieved then was too low for a thermonuclear device.
When it carried out its fifth test, in September 2016, it backed away from earlier claims of having tested a hydrogen bomb.
Poland has become an alliance-wide leader in NATO defense efforts and it is one of only a handful of countries meeting NATO’s 2 proc. defense spending target.
During the visit of President Donald Trump, Warsaw announced its decision to acquire Patriot missile defenses and the associated Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).
The Trump Administration and its NATO allies should follow Warsaw’s lead and make a major change to NATO policy by explicitly referencing Russia as the target of allied regional missile defense architecture in Europe – as writes prof. Matthew Kroenig, an Associate Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and a Senior Fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.
Last month U.S. President Donald Trump visited Poland, a country that has become an alliance-wide leader in NATO defense efforts. Poland is the new center of gravity for any East-West conflict, it is one of only a handful of countries meeting NATO’s 2% defense spending target, and, during Trump’s visit, Warsaw announced its decision to acquire U.S. Patriot missile defenses and the associated Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).
The Trump Administration and its NATO allies should follow Warsaw’s lead and make a major change to NATO policy by explicitly referencing Russia as the target of allied regional missile defense architecture in Europe.
For years, the United States has been crystal clear that its strategic, homeland ballistic missile defense system is designed to deal with rogue states, like North Korea and Iran, and is not directed at Russia or China.
The purpose of NATO regional missile defenses in Europe, on the other hand, have been somewhat more ambiguous. The 2010 NATO Strategic Concept, for example, stated that NATO must be able to deter and defend “against any threat,” but the Obama administration’s “European Phased Adaptive Approach” (EPAA) to missile defense in Europe was designed to deal with threats coming from Iran.
Similarly, the 2012 NATO Deterrence and Defense Posture Review states that “NATO missile defense is not oriented at Russia.” As Brad Roberts, Obama’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense policy, put it, “The Obama administration, like the Bush administration that preceded it, envisioned no role for missile defense in Europe against Russian missiles.”
But the threat environment has changed. In 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and, since that time, Moscow has repeatedly made explicit threats against NATO and the rest of Europe.
Russian strategists plan for “de-escalatory” “pre-nuclear” and nuclear strikes against NATO targets in the early stages of any conflict. Moreover, Russia has a wide array of conventional and nuclear-capable cruise and ballistic missiles to carry out these threats.
It is violating its commitments under the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by testing and deploying a new ground-launched cruise missile and it has conspicuously deployed its Iskander missile in Kaliningrad, on the borders of NATO.
This growing Russian missile capability poses a real threat. It enables Moscow to coerce NATO members in peacetime and in crises and it could also have a devastating wartime effect.
NATO maintains only a token trip-wire presence in the Baltics, so in the event of Russian aggression, the United States and NATO would need to project forces forward from Western bases. But these reinforcements would be highly vulnerable to Russian “de-escalatory” strikes, which might not only shock NATO into suing for peace, but could physically prevent NATO from providing an adequate defense of its members.
To counter this threat, NATO needs a regional missile defense architecture designed to defend against Russian missiles. A broad area defense of all of European territory would be costly and is unnecessary, but point defenses of critical military assets are badly needed.
The United States and allies in Europe should develop missile defenses to protect critical bases, forward-deployed forces, air and seaports of debarkation (APODS and SPODS), as well as key command and control nodes.
Such missile defenses would greatly improve NATO security. With the possibility of a limited strike on military targets removed, Russia would be forced to threaten the direct targeting of population centers or an attempt to overwhelm defenses with larger-scale barrages. Both are riskier, and, therefore, less credible, propositions.
Unfortunately, NATO’s current missile defense posture is not currently geared toward this challenge as the Obama administration repeatedly explained.
Fortunately, however, the outlines of what could become a future NATO regional missile defense posture are beginning to form. Poland’s purchase of Patriot and IBCS is an important step forward. The latter system will allow the tying together of radars and interceptors of multiple current and future air and missile defense installations to create a more effective overall system.
These programs should continue, but they are only the beginning. Broadly, the United States can provide higher-end defenses with European allies purchasing systems for point defenses in their countries.
Wealthier NATO countries, such as Germany, should consider deploying existing assets to vulnerable allies, such as the Baltics. Such an approach also demonstrates a concrete manifestation of the alliance burden sharing demanded by the Trump administration.
A regional missile defense architecture in Europe will greatly contribute to Western security, but getting it right depends on accurately identifying the source of the threat. NATO must stop tiptoeing around this obvious truth and explicitly recognize Russia as the primary missile threat to Europe.
Matthew Kroenig is an Associate Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University, a Senior Fellow in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, and a former strategist in the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Baltic Post.
North Korea has fired a missile over Japan which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called the “most serious and grave ever” threat to the country.
The missile was fired just before 6 a.m. in Japan. The launch set off warnings in the northern part of the country urging people to seek shelter.
It flew over Erimomisaki, on the northern island of Hokkaido, and broke into three pieces before falling into the Pacific Ocean, about 1,180 kilometers (733 miles) off the Japanese coast.
The missile was in flight for about 14 minutes, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at an emergency press conference. “There is no immediate report of the fallen objects and no damage to the ships and aircraft,” he added.
Pentagon spokesman US Army Col. Rob Manning said the launch did not pose an immediate threat to North America.
Abe told reporters he had a 40-minute phone call with US President Donald Trump to discuss the missile launch. The two countries have requested an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council, according to Japan’s ambassador to the UN, Koro Bessho.
“The international community has to put more pressure on North Korea,” Ambassador Bessho said.
The missile was launched near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, which is rare.
CNN’s Will Ripley, who is on the ground in Pyongyang, said the news had not been broadcast to people inside North Korea as of 9:45 a.m. local time.
South Korea responded by conducting a bombing drill at 9:30 a.m. local time to test its “capability to destroy the North Korean leadership” in cases of emergency, an official with the country’s Defense Ministry told CNN.
Yoon Young-chan, the head of South Korea’s Presidential Office Public Affairs Office, told reporters that Four F-15K fighter jets dropped eight one-ton MK-84 bombs at a shooting range.
The operation was meant “to showcase a strong punishment capability against the North,” he said.
Notably, however, it is the the first time the country has successfully fired a missile over Japan since 1998, when it sent a satellite launch vehicle over the country.
North Korea also launched satellites into orbit in 2012 and 2016, after which parts of both rockets that carried the satellites fell into the waters to Japan’s east and south. Experts say those satellite launches could be used to test the same technology used in ballistic missiles.
Analysts believe Tuesday’s launch shows a new level of confidence from the North Koreans.
“It is a big deal that they overflew Japan, which they have carefully avoided doing for a number of years, even though it forced them to test missiles on highly lofted trajectories, and forced them to launch their satellites to the south, which is less efficient than launching to the east (due to the Earth’s rotational motion),” said David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“This will make it more difficult for the US to get Japanese support for diplomacy, unfortunately, at exactly the time when the situation is heating up.”
US Senator Lindsey Graham quickly weighed in on Twitter, calling the launch a “a big-time” escalation of conflict.
“Trump Admin must forcefully respond to convince N. Korea their efforts to destabilize the region & world will not be allowed to mature,” he said.
Graham made headlines earlier this month after telling NBC’s “Today” show that President Trump assured him “if there’s going to be a war to stop them, it will be over there,” a comment which concerned US allies already in range of much of North Korea’s arsenal.
Minutes after the missile was launched, residents in northern Japan received a text message urging them to seek shelter in a strong structure or a basement. “We were awoken by sirens and messages from the government telling us to take cover,” one local resident told CNN.
The first message came in at 6:02 a.m. Japan time:
“Missile launched. missile launched. It seems that the missile has been launched from North Korea. Please evacuate to building with strong structure or go to the basement.”
The second alert came in about 12 minutes later:
“Missile passed. Missile passed. A minute ago, the missile seems to have pass the airspace of this area. If you find anything suspicious, please don’t come close to it, report to the police and firefighter directly.”
Prime Minister Abe condemned the launch as a “reckless act.”
“We have fully grasped the movement of the missile immediately after their launch and have been taking every possible effort to protect the lives of people,” he said. “It is a serious and grave threat which impairs the safety and peace of the region.”
Pyongyang’s missile tests are banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions, but that hasn’t stopped current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from attempting to rapidly develop his country’s nuclear and missile programs.
Analysts say North Korea believes developing a nuclear weapon that can fit atop a missile powerful enough to reach the United States is the only way Pyongyang can deter any US-led efforts at regime change.
The country has long maintained that it will only abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons if the United States ends what Pyongyang calls the American “hostile policy” to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as North Korea is officially known.
“They cross line after line in an effort to say this is the new reality and you should accept it and go easy on us,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for American Progress. “I think that’s a pretty unambiguous signal that they’re no longer going to be restrained by the United States.”
The administration of US President Donald Trump is pursuing what it calls a strategy of “peaceful pressure” to rein in North Korea’s weapons programs. The goal is to put enough diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang in order to push them to the negotiating table.
Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump hinted that the strategy appeared to be working.
The launch was also likely a signal to Japan, analysts say, as it comes the day after the Northern Viper military drills ended between the United States and Japan on Hokkaido.
Analysts say it’s likely part of a North Korea strategy to drive a wedge between the US and its two main allies in the region — Japan and South Korea.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told reporters this launch “could endanger peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also very dangerous and problematic in terms of the traffic safety of planes and ships.”
The United States is currently participating in its annual 10-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises with South Korea, which began on August 21. Those drills are more logistical and defensive in nature — though Pyongyang sees them as provocative — whereas the Northern Viper drills could be considered more operational, Mount said.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry condemned the North Korean launch as “yet another provocation despite grave messages of warning,” in a statement Tuesday.
“The North Korean regime needs to realize that denuclearization is the only true path to securing its security and economic development and needs to come to the path for nuclearization dialogue instead of conducting its reckless provocation,” the statement said.
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL — A Cold War-era derived Peacekeeper ICBM missile formerly armed with multiple nuclear warheads and now modified as a payload orbiter successfully launched an urgently needed space situational awareness and space junk tracking satellite to orbit overnight this morning, Aug. 26, for the U.S. military from the Florida Space Coast.
Following a nearly 3 hour delay due to day long dismal weather causing locally heavy rain storms and lighting in central Florida, an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket carrying the ORS-5 tracking satellite for the USAF finally lifted off in the wee hours Saturday morning, Aug. 26 at 2:04 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The five stage solid fueled Minotaur IV roared rapidly off Space Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46) on a half million pounds of thrust and quickly disappeared into the clouds from the perspective of our nearby media launch viewing site on this inaugural launch of the rocket from the Cape.
The gap filling ORS-5 space surveillance satellite will track orbiting threats for the U.S. Air Force and offered a thrilling nighttime launch experience to those who stayed awake and braved the post midnight time slot.
The converted ICBM motor ignition produced a flash of extremely bright light that briefly turned night into day. The maiden Minotaur gushed a left huge exhaust trail as it accelerated to orbit.
The ORS-5 is a single satellite constellation with a primary mission to provide space situational awareness of the geosynchronous orbit belt for Combatant Commanders’ urgent needs, according to Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander and mission Launch Decision Authority at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
The ORS-5 mission, which stands for Operationally Responsive Space-5, marks the first launch of a Minotaur IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the first use of SLC-46 since 1999.
SLC-46 is operated under license by Space Florida.
The ORS-5 satellite built for the USAF Operationally Responsive Space Office will provide the US military with space-based surveillance and tracking of other satellites both friend and foe as well as space debris in geosynchronous orbit, 22,236 miles above the equator.
The Minotaur IV is a five stage rocket is comprised of three stages of a decommissioned Cold War-era Peacekeeper Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) that has been modified to add two additional Orbital ATK Orion 38 solid rocket motors for the upper stages.
Approximately 28 minutes after liftoff at 2:04 a.m. EDT, the Minotaur IV deployed the ORS-5 satellite into its targeted low inclination orbit 372 miles (599 kilometers) above the earth, Orbital ATK confirmed.
“From this orbit, ORS-5 will deliver timely, reliable and accurate space situational awareness information to the United States Strategic Command through the Joint Space Operations Center.”
“This was our first Minotaur launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, demonstrating the rocket’s capability to launch from all four major U.S. spaceports,” said Rich Straka, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Launch Vehicles Division.
The ORS-5 satellite will provide the US military with space-based surveillance and tracking of other satellites both friend and foe as well as space debris in geosynchronous orbit, 22,236 miles above the equator.
This Minotaur IV rocket is a retired Cold War-era ICBM missile once armed with nuclear warheads aimed at the former Soviet Union that can now launch satellites for purposes other than offensive nuclear war retaliation.
Overall the ORS-5 launch was the 26th blastoff in Orbital ATK’s Minotaur family of launch vehicles which enjoy a 100% success rate to date.
“With a perfect track record of 26 successful launches, the Minotaur family has proven to be a valuable and reliable asset for the Department of Defense,” said Straka.
“Orbital ATK has launched nearly 100 space launch and strategic rockets for the U.S. Air Force,” said Scott Lehr, President of Orbital ATK’s Flight Systems Group. “We’re proud to be a partner they can count on.”
The past two weeks have been a super busy time at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. This morning’s post midnight launch was the third in just 11 days – and the second in a week!
A ULA Atlas V launched the NASA TDRS-M science relay satellite last Friday, Aug 18. And a SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the Dragon CRS-12 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, Aug. 14.
“The ORS-5 Minotaur IV launch was the true epitome of partnership,” Gen. Monteith said.
“A collaborative effort between multiple mission partners, each group came together flawlessly to revolutionize how we work together on the Eastern Range. Teamwork is pivotal to making us the ‘World’s Premier Gateway to Space’ and I couldn’t be prouder to lead a Wing that not only has launched over a quarter of the world’s launches this year, but also three successful, launches from three different providers, in less than two weeks.”
ORS-5 was designed and built by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory facility in Lexington, Massachusetts at a cost of $49 million.
In July 2015 the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office awarded Orbital ATK a $23.6 million contract to launch the ORS-5 SensorSat on the Minotaur IV launch vehicle.
ORS-5/SensorSat was processed for launch and encapsulation inside the 2.3 meter diameter payload fairing at Astrotech Space Operations processing facility in Titusville, Florida.
Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite Minotaur IV ORS-5, TDRS-M, CRS-12, and NASA and space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.
Strategic deterrence starts with nuclear capabilities because nuclear war always has been an existential threat to the nation, but deterrence in the 21st century presents new challenges and requires the integration of all capabilities, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said during a recent interview with DoD News at his command’s Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, headquarters.
Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said his three priorities for Stratcom are simple: one, above all else provide a strategic deterrent; two, if deterrence fails provide a decisive response; and three, respond with a combat-ready force.
But unlike in past decades, the 21st century presents more than one adversary and more than one domain, he said.
“It’s now a multipolar problem with many nations that have nuclear weapons, … and it’s also multidomain. … We have adversaries that are looking at integrating nuclear, conventional, space and cyber, all as part of a strategic deterrent. We have to think about strategic deterrence in the same way,” Hyten said.
The vision for Stratcom, he added, is to integrate all capabilities — nuclear, space, cyberspace, missile defense, global strike, electronic warfare, intelligence, targeting, analysis — so they can be brought to bear in a single decisive response if the nation is threatened.
“We can’t [assume] that having 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons under the New START Treaty somehow deters all our adversaries. It doesn’t,” the general said. “We have to think about all the domains, all the adversaries, all the capabilities, and focus our attention across the board on all of those.”
Modernization is critical to the future of the U.S. deterrent capability, Hyten said, because all elements of the nuclear triad — bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines — will reach a point within about 15 years at which they’re no longer viable.
“They are viable today. They are safe, secure, reliable, ready, [and] they can do all the missions they need to do today,” he said. “But in the not-too-distant future, that won’t be the case. Sadly, we’ve delayed the modernization of those programs really too long. And now if you lay all the modernization programs out on a single table and you look at when they all deliver, they all deliver just in time.”
The next intercontinental ballistic missile delivers just in time to replace the Minuteman, and the Columbia nuclear submarine delivers just in time to replace the Ohio-class sub, he added.
“Any one-year delay in Columbia means the future Stratcom commander is going to be down one submarine. And any future delay in the ICBM means we’re going to be down a certain number of ICBMs,” Hyten said.
It’s the same with the nation’s B-52 and B-2 bombers, the general said. The B-52 is an old but amazing weapon delivery platform that will have no penetration capability because of evolving penetration profiles. The B-2 is aging out and must be replaced by the B-21. The B-21 will come along just in time to provide the bomber capabilities the nation needs, he added.
“I don’t want a future Stratcom commander to ever face a day where we don’t have a safe, secure, ready and reliable nuclear deterrent,” he said. “It has to be there.”
Extended deterrence is another critical job for Stratcom, Hyten said, noting that assurance is one of the most important things the command does for U.S. allies.
“When you look at our allies like the Republic of Korea or Japan, we have capabilities here that provide an extended deterrent for those two allies and a number of other allies around the world,” he said. “It’s important that the United States always assure them that we will be there with the capabilities that we have if they’re ever attacked with nuclear capabilities. That’s what extended deterrence means.”
Assurance can come through demonstrations, partnerships and exercises, he noted.
“There is a challenge right now with North Korea, and it’s very important for the Republic of Korea and for Japan to know that we will be there. And we will be,” he said.
Stratcom’s strength lies with the 184,000 people who show up and do Stratcom business every day, Hyten said.
“The best part of being a commander is actually seeing the young men and women who do this mission every day,” the general said. “The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines sign up to do some of the most difficult jobs that our country has, and man, they do it, they love it and they’re good at it.”
Hyten said he can’t emphasize the importance of Stratcom’s people enough. “Sometimes it brings tears to your eyes when you see the quality of the people who come, who raise their hand and want to come and serve our country,” he added.
The general said he loves the fact that Stratcom’s people raise their hands and swear an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, an ideal written down on a piece of paper more than 200 years ago. That ideal still is what drives men and women of the nation to want to serve, he added.
“The people of this command take that very seriously,” Hyten said, “and they are just remarkable in what they do.”