As part of the secret USSF-124 mission, a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with two prototype satellites for the Missile Defense Agency and four next-generation satellites for the US Space Force. Their main task is to track hypersonic missiles launched by China and Russia.

Ukrainians already know the difference between hypersonics and ballistics from their own experience. Hypersonic missiles are smaller but more maneuverable (making them more difficult to track) and travel mostly in the Earth’s atmosphere — so older U.S. missile defense satellites don’t always detect them. And, given that Iran and North Korea are developing their own hypersonic weapons, the threat of their use should be countered by effective, and, if possible, not too expensive technologies. Outdated military satellites often cost hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars per unit; The new prototypes are significantly cheaper.

The Space Development Agency (SDA) has already launched 27 prototype satellites from the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture fleet, which will eventually include hundreds of spacecraft to track launches and trajectories of rockets, and transmit this data to Earth. They will be used by air defense forces to warn those at whom hypersonic weapons are directed, as well as to shoot down or intercept missiles. In the coming months, military exercises will take place using satellites launched into orbit.

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