07 Maxar satellite image of Ukrainian Snake Island before Russia's invasion.

07 Maxar satellite image of Ukrainian Snake Island before Russia's invasion. Satellite image (c) 2022 Maxar Technologies

The Air & Space Brief: Ukraine seeks stealth satellite launch; Open source code for space; SpaceX’s test fireball

Welcome to the Defense One Air and Space newsletter. Here are our top stories this week:  

Seeking stealthy sat launcher: Russia’s invasion taught Ukraine it needs its own satellite network – and stealthy ways to launch those sensors, a former space agency head says. One option? A system that would load the satellite, the booster, and the rocket fuel inside a medium-range aircraft. The rocket would be fueled only after the aircraft takes off, concealing launch plans from foes. 

Air Force embraces open source: Open source software has a mixed reputation for security, yet it drives commercial space enterprises such as SpaceX and Starlink—and increasingly, U.S. military space efforts. But Lauren Barrett Knausenberger, the Air Force’s chief information officer, says her service has taken steps to keep key data safe. 

SpaceX fireball: The prototype of the super heavy first-stage rocket that will lift SpaceX’s Starship experienced a setback Monday when a fireball erupted during a test, Space.com reported. It was unclear what damage the prototype rocket sustained from the test. 

India’s Russian imports: Bipartisan lawmakers want to give India more leeway to buy Russian weapons in the short term to strengthen the security partnership between the United States and India in the long term. New Delhi buys the vast majority of its military equipment from Russia, and lawmakers argue exempting India from secondary sanctions will give it time to end its dependency on Russia and strengthen the security partnership between Washington and New Delhi. 

Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Tuesday from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. On July 12, 2022, the James Webb Space Telescope released its first breathtaking images, which NASA described as “the first images from the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope [that] will demonstrate Webb at its full power, ready to begin its mission to unfold the infrared universe.”

From Defense One

Five Space Lessons Russia's Invasion Taught Ukraine // Tara Copp

Kyiv now wants its own imagery and comms satellites—and a stealthy way to launch them, a former space agency head says.

Pentagon to Buy Two Advanced Air Defense Systems for Ukraine // Tara Copp

The U.S.-Norway missiles may not be ready for weeks or months, official says.

US Lawmakers Want to Give India a Pass For Buying Russian Missiles // Jacqueline Feldscher and Marcus Weisgerber

American officials have been urging allies to give up Russian-made weapons in favor of western arms.