Sunday, March 06, 2022

Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS) | US Space Force

Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS) | US Space Force

"Until now, the United States Space Missions extended 22,000 miles above Earth. That was then, this is now."

The Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS), is here to improve the United States Space Force's ability to track and identify artificial objects around the moon and beyond.

The United States Space Force (USSF) is tasked with protecting and defending US interests in space. Until now, the limits of that mission have been in near Earth, out to approximately geostationary (GEO) range.  With new US public and private sector operations extending into cislunar space, the reach of USSF’s sphere of interest will also extend to the Moon and beyond. There are a number of technical challenges to overcome with cislunar domain awareness operations, including the effects of a three-body gravitational environment. The large range of trajectories can have periods anywhere from hours to a month, and the new region encompasses a volume 1000x larger than is traditionally monitored by the USSF. Finally, the Moon creates observational challenges simply due to exclusion zones created by varying lighting conditions that occur due to the Moon’s orbit around the Earth. This creates a substantial observational challenge that can only be overcome by observations from orbits beyond GEO, such as halo orbits around Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 1.

As part of an overarching research program addressing these challenges, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS) will demonstrate core competencies for conducting space domain awareness (SDA) operations in the cislunar regime. The CHPS project will demonstrate sensing techniques and methods for detection and tracking in the region near the Moon that cannot be viewed optically from the Earth or traditional orbits like GEO.

The CHPS Other Transaction Authority (OTA) is being sought to mature and deliver this novel capability to the USSF. The primary mission objectives are to search for and maintain custody of objects down to 18th and 21st visual magnitudes, respectively. To support this mission, the vehicle must facilitate precise pointing, position, navigation, and timing in the cislunar operational environment. CHPS is seeking solutions to maximize on-board image processing, orbit determination, and catalog maintenance in conjunction with necessary communications to the ground. It is expected that the vehicle fit in a form factor of The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adaptor (ESPA) and leverage commercial off the shelf (COTS) parts to the extent feasible.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is a scientific research organization operated by the United States Air Force Materiel Command dedicated to leading the discovery, development, and integration of aerospace warfighting technologies, planning and executing the Air Force science and technology program, and providing warfighting capabilities to United States air, space, and cyberspace forces. It controls the entire Air Force science and technology research budget.

Credit: Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)/National Security Technology Accelerator (NSTXL)

Release Date: March 1, 2022

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