Russia and the USA are planning a $344 million joint space-based missile early warning satellite system that could lead to a multi-layered ground, air and space anti-missile system.

Work on the initial two-satellite Russian American Observation Satellite (RAMOS) is being conducted by the US Ballistic Missile Defence Organization which describes it as "the most significant co-operative effort with Russia" to date.

RAMOS would also provide environmental and meteorological monitoring working in conjunction with existing Russian and US military satellites, including early warning systems.

Both countries have performed demonstrations for RAMOS-like satellites, including the US Midcourse Space Experiment and Miniature Sensor Technology Integration satellites, working with a Russian Resurs 01 Earth observation satellite. US and Russian sensors have also flown aboard the US Flying Infrared Signatures Technology Aircraft.

Russia's Rosoboronexport is managing the country's effort with NPO Kometa, while the Utah State University's Space Dynamics Laboratory is working on the super-cooled sensors.

Russia is planning to conduct launches, starting in 2004-5, and supply spacecraft platforms, while the US will provide the infrared sensors.

Source: Flight International