The US Air Force has long been the main user of launched ballistic missile interceptor missiles. It is only with the advent of a new generation of highly maneuverable ICBM missiles that some in the military are looking to put more emphasis on the vertical takeoff process forgoing ICBM in favor of shorter take off and vertical landing processes forgoing ICBM on-board kills. Some of these ideas are still considered classified but the concept is to have the short take off glide nosed ICBM strike missile do a turn and perform a vertical launching with a solid fuel booster then use its short range forward momentum to fly away from the enemy and vertical jump into a low earth orbit or a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
One of the challenges of such a system would be to protect the US’ forward deployed troops in the Middle East against short-range ICBM barrage. The other challenge would be how to protect our forward deployed troops in Afghanistan from medium-range rail-mobile ballistic missiles which would go right up to their target area. The US Air Force already has an answer to this problem with its Tactical aircraft such as the F-22 and stealthy MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles. Currently they are using a hybrid system of passive infrared (IR) and active electronically scanned array (IDS) technology to locate, identify and engage enemy radar systems, which is good because enemy radar systems will jam the data coming from these systems so it is always clear what is going on. This jamming of the data by the enemy will not prevent the UAVs from attacking or delivering a missile attack because the UAVs can simply send out laser guided bursts to disrupt the jamming grid.
It is also possible to lock the target using an optical tracking system although it would be quite large and expensive. Lock picking is possible using small satellites in low Earth orbit which would detect, maneuver and close to the spacecraft and then enter into orbit. Only the cosmonaut would know what was going on and if the mission successful then they could go home and collect their trophy. This is probably not an issue with a manned space flight because unless something goes wrong with the launch or reentry the crew will be safe.
A third option for protecting our men in space against the potential threat of long-range surface-to-air missiles (Rockets) and ICBM (intercontinental missiles) is with the use of lightning intercept systems. These lightning intercepting system would allow a unmanned aerial vehicle to fly through a ICBM warhead at very high speeds and lock onto it using a small satellite which uses near-infrared technology to confuse and disorient the missile’s seeker system. Once the lock is established the unmanned aircraft would fire its missile. The main downside of this system is that it does not work well in all weather conditions and at all times. Most space weather predictions predict a significant increase in atmospheric pressure which would make it much more difficult for lightning to take place.
The fourth weather defense measure to protect American astronauts from radiation, dust, sand particles is with an advanced baseline imager (ABI). An ABI instrument uses extremely-high-energy ultra-violet radiation to image the earth and the moon. Because humans have never been to the moon or the outer atmosphere of our earth, it is hard to say how Earth and space are affected by man made pollution. But one thing we can do is protect the moon from solar flares and space weather. It also would help prevent extreme ultraviolet x-ray irradiance from destroying space exploration vehicles.
Lastly, we must secure our astronauts from enemy infiltration using an operational environmental satellite monitoring system. A satellite is a very effective way to keep an eye on any potential hostile activities in space. This is because it is not always possible to get an orbit around a planet. Therefore, the best way to do it is to launch an orbit insertion vehicle which will insert itself into the assigned orbit and will continuously send back data via the different sensors for the commander to analyze.