We all know that the Pentagon has more space weapons technology in mind than just a single, satellite-shooting missile. But trying to pin down how much the Defense Department is spending on space combat research — and on what projects — is an absolute bitch. The programs are spread across at least a dozen different accounts; much of the technology involved is “dual use” — meaning, it could help with another military matters, too; and that’s before you get into the Defense Department’s “black,” classified budget.
Over the years, the gang at the Center for Defense Information has done a good a job as anyone at this thankless task. They’ve just released their survey of the Pentagon’s 2009 budget, highlighting research that could lead to arms in space. By the absolute most conservative estimate, we’re talking $520 million dollars in next year’s budget. The real number is likely several multiples of that.
The projects mostly involve ways to disable potentially hostile satellites; many have other uses, as well. They include a giant laser, to help spot targets in orbit (and to improve space imaging, in the meantime); micro satellites, that could disable another country’s orbiters (or repair our own); a series of jammers, to block enemy satellite signals; and missile interceptors, based in space.