In the early 2000s, the arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin began designing near-space platforms to work alongside U.S. satellites.

The program began amid concerns in the defense community that such platforms would eventually be necessary for the survival of the U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems that rely on satellites.

Yet, like many other U.S. weapons systems that anticipate near-future threats, the project was cast to the wayside through budget cuts and a sense of hubris that the United States was far enough ahead of its adversaries to not worry.

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