Infrared satellite sensors, UAP, and Australia


1RSU In July 2021 I wrote a blog post, exploring the question of what assets were available to the Australian Department of Defence, which might detect Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP.) One of the assets I discussed, was No. 1 Remote […]


In July 2021 I wrote a blog post, exploring the question of what assets were available to the Australian Department of Defence, which might detect Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP.) One of the assets I discussed, was No. 1 Remote Sensor Unit (1RSU) based at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)  Base Edinburgh, South Australia. Its role is radar surveillance, and space situational awareness. 1RSU accesses a range of sensors, including the following.

1) Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) – a collection of over-the-horizon radar systems covering the 1,000 to 3,000 kilometres range, aimed to the north of Australia.

2. C – band radar. This commenced operation in 2017, and is based at Exmouth, Western Australia. It is used for the detection and tracking of objects in low earth orbit.

3. The RAAF Space Surveillance Telescope . This became operational in July 2021 and is also based in Exmouth, WA. It is designed to look at any object in earth orbit, up to geosynchronous orbit, which is  36,000 kilometres above the surface of the earth.

4. Space Based Infrared System. (SBIRS)  In a USAF Peterson Air Force Base fact sheet, I also found reference to the fact that 1RSU is the only operational unit within the Australian Department of Defence, charged with conducting the Australian Defence Force’s Space Presence and Space Situational Awareness (SSA.) 

So what is the SBIRS?

The Space-based Infrared System (SBIRS) is a constellation of integrated satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) and high elliptical orbit (HEO,) and ground based data processing, and command and control centers.”

The SBIRS is currently managed by the Remote Sensing System Directorate of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command.

Data from the satellites is downloaded by Relay Ground Stations and sent on to the SBIRS Mission  Control Station at Buckley Space Force Base (SFB), Denver, Colarado; Peterson SFB; Greeley Air National Guard Station,; and to a back up at Schriver, SFB, near Colorado Springs.

The SBIRS can pick up nuclear explosions; satellites reflecting sunlight; after burners on jet aircraft; forest fires; volcanoes; meteors striking the atmosphere; re-entering satellites; plane crashes and explosions.

The forerunner infrared detection satellites to the SBIRS, were the Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites. 

Why is this of interest to UAP researchers?

The UAP literature has, from time to time, discussed infrared satellite sensors in the context of UAP.

Vallee 1988

In his book “Forbidden Science: Volume 3” researcher Jacques Vallee, in a diary entry dated 28 June 1988, wrote:

“Hal [Puthoff – KB] has seen a 2-inch thick file that details UFO obervations by infrared satellites. ‘The objects arrive 3,000 miles from the Earth’ he told me. ‘The satellites pick them up as they come near the surface and go away the same manner as they came in.'”

Regehr April 1994

The front cover of the April 1994 (number 312) issue of the MUFON Journal headlined “Do Spy Satellites See UFOs?” Inside was an article by Ronald S. Regehr. A note at the end of the article stated that:

“Mr. Regehr has worked for 25 years on the Defense Support Program. He wrote the performance/design specifications for each series of sensor systems, the operationmal software specifications and edited the Satellite Performance Reports. He also prepared the SED (Sensor Evolutionary Design) Familiarization Manual, used to introduce the DSP to Air Force personnel new to the program.”

The article contends that the DSP satellites “…have detected unidentified flying objects.” He refers to US researcher Lee Graham’s FOIA search for satellite data which would confirm detection of UFOs. Graham’s 200 or so FOIA requests led him to such terms as “Fast Walker.” However, Regehr concluded “Repeated efforts have failed to reveal the true meaning of the terms…”

Interestingly, Regehr reported that “Remote viewing” by Ed Dames is said to have confirmed numerous deep space and air space intrusions by UAPs which were DSP detected.

In his article, Regehr provides details of a 5 May 1984 DSP observation which UFO researchers such as Joseph Stefula, cited as probably being a UAP. However Jeffrey T. Richelson in his definitive book “American Space Sentinels” (p.118) suggests it was actually a US signals intelligence satellite.

The article concludes with mathematically modelling which Reghr states “…thus effectively proving that at least one of our spy satellites could detect UFOs.”

Stacy and  Huyghe August 1994

Omni magazine ran an article by Dennis Stacy and Patrick Huyghe about the DSP satellites. Citing arguements by Ron Regehr of Aerojet General; and information from Edward Tagliaferri, a physicist at Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo; and Joseph Stefula, they concluded:

“Somewhere, out there, no doubt, is a sensor system that already knows whether we are being visited by UFOs or not, but the owners of those systems aren’t talking.”

Fish 2015

Perhaps the most famous UAP DSP story comes from the Wikileak email series relating to John Podesta. The email was dated 6 March 2015 and was from one Robert Fish to John Podesta. The subject line was “Leslie Keane book – DSP Program.” Fish wrote:

“I had lunch with a few of them in the cafeteria of a highly classified organization in El Segundo, CA. No one could get into the cafeteria without TS/SCI clearance, so this was no “lightweight group of gossipers.” One of those times, a member of that group was really excited – said they’s just picked up Fastwalker (I assumed that same day.) He described how it entered our atmosphere from ‘deep space’ (origin actually unknown, of course, but from the backside of the satellite) and zipped by the DSP satellite pretty close on its way to earth. Not only was it going pretty fast but it made a 30 degree course correction (turn) which means it did not have  ballistic (free fall) re-entry trajectory that a meteorite might have. So, it was under some sort of control – although whether it was ‘manned’ or just ‘robotic’ there’s no way to tell.”

This event was in 1991. Australian investigative journalist Ross Coulthart interviewed Robert Fish for his 2021 book “In Plain Sight,” via email in February 2020. 

“I wrote to Bob Fish and after a few weeks he kindly responded, confirming everything he told Podesta, and more.” (p102.)

Ross added that Fish was:

“A previously very highly security cleared communications intelligence insider, Fish had extensive experience working on classified projects, including President Reagen’s “Trust but Verify” nuclear missile disarmament treaty with the Soviets and he assured me that he was happy to be quoted about his strong interest and beliefs in UAPs.” (p.103.)


Thus, some researchers have pointed out there is a term “Fast Walker” used in reference to DSP IR detections, which they equate to mean UAP. However, JeffreyT. Richeslon in “American Space Sentinels,” on page 118, has this to say about “Fast Walkers.”

“According to Air Force Space Command Regulation 55-55 FAST WALKER denotes detection of a space object which includes satellites and their debris, in a DSP satellite’s field of view.”

In 2019, Air Force Space Command became US Space Force, within the Department of the US Air Force.

The Australian context

The Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory includes equipment which downloads data from SBIRS satellites and transmits this to the SBIRS Mission Control Station at Buckley AFB, in the USA. Some of this data returns to Australia and goes to the following:

1. HMAS Harman, in Canberra.

2. Department of Defence, Russell Hill.

3. HQ Joint Operations Command, Bungendore.

A 2019 publication provides the following detail:

“Australian Space Operations Centre (AUSSpOC). HQJOC is responsible for processing space support requests and does so using the specialist resources of the AUSSpOC, which is established within HQJOC’s Air & Space Operations Centre (AOC), to provide:

a. analysis of satellite vulnerability reports (SATVULREP) for force elements in training or as deployed on operations and exercises. 

b. warning reports of space debris re-entry over areas of interest and liaisons with EMA. 

c. monitoring of the impacts of space weather forecasts on operational space capabilities. 

d. dissemination of space situational awareness advicee. liaison with the US CSpOC.”

4. 1RSU Edinburgh, South Australia.

1RSU operates the SBIRS Australian Mission  Processor (AMP.) This AMP was built by Northrop Grumann  The system was ordered in 2013, and became operational in September 2015. An August 2016 article, states that the AMP “…employs the US Air Force-derived space-based infrared satellite data to detect infrared events in Australia’s area of interest.” The same article stated “Phase III then produced the full operational system, allowing the RAAF to interpret, analyse and disseminate infrared events in real time…” For an interesting look at how “space weather” affects the mission of 1RSU, click here. 

DOD organisation 

In looking where SBIRS data management sits in the Australian DOD organisational structure, I found on their own website, that within the RAAF we find:

“SBIRS Mission Control Station” under “Directorate of Space” under “DG Air Defence & Space – AF” under “Head Air Capability – Air Force.”However, this may change as on 19 May 2021 the DOD announced that a “Defence Space Division” would be established in early 2022.

In looking for current DOD doctrine on space, I found the DOD has a 2019 publication titled “Air-Space Integration” in their “Doctrine Note Series,” which talks about the “space domain.” It spells out that “Chief of Air Force (CAF) is the capability coordinator of Defence Space capabilities.” 

The initial head of the newly established “Defence Space Division” was given as Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts, an aerospace engineer. The role was stated as to “coordinate Australia’s Space Defence activities.” One wonders if this will then  include the Australian end of the SBIRS?


So, the question remains as to whether or not, the SBIRS picks up objects that remain unidentified? The short answer to this; is there is no doubt it does. Countries such as Russia and China launch satellites for clandestine purposes which initially are detected and classed as unidentified. However, the real question is, are any of these “unknown space objects” Unidentified Aerial Phenomena as UAP researchers would define them? The Australian Department of Defence via 1RSU’s capabilities may well know the answer.


Thank you to Isaac Koi in the U.K. and Melbourne based researcher Paul Dean, for research assistance with this article. I recommend readers take a look at Paul Dean’s series of blog articles, “NORAD and the UFO Smokescreen” especially parts eight and nine.


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