The Air & Space Brief: China’s spaceplane; Satellite attack response; AI targeting failures
Welcome to the Defense One Air and Space newsletter. Here are our top stories this week:
Spaceplane concerns: China’s hypersonics may be getting more of the recent attention, but the country’s work on spaceplanes is significant to both the economy and national security, Daniel Shats and Peter Singer argue in their latest piece for Defense One. According to the U.S. Air Force’s China Aerospace Studies Institute, China’s spaceplane efforts have skyrocketed since 2016, led not only by stalwarts of China’s aerospace industry, but by a growing number of private startups.
How to respond to a satellite attack: Should killing a satellite provoke war on Earth? The prospect is far from merely hypothetical, as illustrated by Russia’s test that hit one of its own satellites in November. Now the Space Force is considering how to respond to attacks in orbit, , Brig. Gen. John Olson, the mobilization assistant to the chief of space operations, said at the Defense One Outlook 2022 summit
AI targeting success?: An Air Force AI targeting program had reported a 90 percent success rate—but when a subtle tweak was made to the data, the success rate was more like 25 percent, Patrick Tucker reports. In that recent test, an experimental target recognition program performed well when all the conditions were perfect, but the failure rate jumped when the targeting angle was just slightly altered.
27 out: The Air Force has discharged 27 people for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the AP reported Monday. They are the first service members to be removed for COVID-19 vaccine refusal.
Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Tuesday from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. On Dec. 14, 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt departed the moon’s surface; no humans have walked on the moon since.
From Defense One
Don't Buy China's Hypersonic Head-Fake. Its Spaceplanes Are Racing Ahead. // Daniel Shats and Peter W. Singer: In the past five years, China’s spaceplane development has accelerated, adding breakthroughs, tests, and new industry players.
Should Killing a Satellite Provoke War on Earth? // Jacqueline Feldscher: A Space Force official says the service is considering how to respond to attacks in orbit.
This Air Force Targeting AI Thought It Had a 90% Success Rate. It Was More Like 25% // Patrick Tucker: Too little of the right kind of data can throw off target algorithms. But try telling the algorithm that.