The following is a script from “The Battle Above” which aired on April 26, 2015, and was rebroadcast on August 2, 2015. David Martin is the correspondent. Andy Court, producer.
Without most of us noticing, our everyday activities — everything from getting cash at an ATM to watching this program — depend on satellites in space. And for the U.S. military, it’s not just everyday activities. The way it fights depends on space. Satellites are used to communicate with troops, gather intelligence, fly drones and target weapons. But as we reported earlier this year, top military and intelligence leaders are now worried those satellites are vulnerable to attack. They say China, in particular, has been actively testing anti-satellite weapons that could, in effect, knock out America’s eyes and ears.
No one wants a war in space, but it’s the job of a branch of the Air Force called Space Command to prepare for one. If you’ve never heard of Space Command, it’s because most of what it does happens hundreds even thousands of miles above the Earth or deep inside highly secure command centers. You may be as surprised as we were to find out how the high-stakes game for control of space is played.
an object straight out of Star Wars appears shooting a laser into the sky. The laser’s beam helps a high-powered telescope focus in on objects in space, so the Air Force can get a better look at the satellites of potential adversaries like China whizzing by at 17,000 miles per hour. It’s part of a complex — and mostly secret — battle for what the military considers the ultimate high ground.