Tech & Science With AsterX, France is embarking on its first military space exercise
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Like a little air from Star Wars. The French armies began this week, and until March 12, their first space military exercise. An operation called AsterX (a double reference to the famous Gauls designed by Uderzo and to the first French satellite, placed in orbit in 1965), which turns out to be a gigantic model of what a conflict in space could be today.
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A scenario in several points
The scenario of the exercise, entirely simulated, starts from a crisis between a State endowed with space capacities and another which has a military assistance agreement with France. The exercise is divided into several phases: for example, there is an entry into the atmosphere of rocket debris, which requires being able to follow multiple trajectories and prevent potentially endangered populations, but also the detection of hostile approaches against the tricolor satellites. Or the reaction to attacks on our exoatmospheric systems, whether by jamming or destruction.
Crucial exercises, since the French armies depend very heavily on satellites, whether for intelligence or for their communications. If, for example, an enemy deprived the French forces of their bandwidth, practically all of our most sophisticated weapon systems (planes, boats, battle tanks) would be reduced to the state of vulgar scrap. But things would hardly be better on the side of civil society, where hospitals, banks but also transport would be paralyzed.
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An essential defense capacity
This is why you have to be able to face an attack from space. And this is precisely the role of the Space Command, a new structure founded in Toulouse in 2019. With operation AsterX, the latter shows on the one hand that it is operational, but also that France is a space military power.
But this operation is also an opportunity to show French know-how that is unique in Europe in this area. Proof of this is that it was in Toulouse that NATO decided to set up its center of excellence in space.
The Space Command is an investment which has been strongly supported by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, since 2017. Year during which the Russian spy satellite Louch-Olympe tried to approach the Franco military satellite - Italian Athena-Fidusun for, presumably, to carry out a hacking operation.
No less than 5 billion euros have since been invested in the modernization of French space capabilities, in particular with the ARES project, which should make it possible to move from simple space surveillance to defense capabilities in space. . A first watch / patrol satellite should also be launched in 2023. The objective is to provide the Space Command with interception capabilities in low orbit by 2030.
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