Saturday, April 18, 2020

Space Fence nearing operational acceptance by U.S. Air Force

According to a NASA recent Orbital Debris Quarterly News, NASA calculates about 17.6 million pounds of objects are in earth orbit. That number will only grow as more commercial space projects launch massive constellations with thousands of smallsats, presenting a huge problem for both U.S. government and commercial organizations.

That’s where the U.S. Air Force’s Space Fence will play a crucial role. Using advanced solid-state S-band radar technology, the Space Fence radar located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, it will play a critical role in the everyday lives of Americans who are becoming more dependent on space-based technologies for everything from weather forecasting, banking, global communications to GPS navigation.

Today, these critical services are being threatened by hundreds of thousands of objects and space debris orbiting the Earth. Frequent collisions and deterioration of assets, such as defunct satellites and
rocket boosters, have increased the amount of space debris and raised the risk of future collisions in space.

The Air Force Space Surveillance Network currently tracks about 25,000 objects. When Space Fence comes online, the catalog will experience significant growth and when fully operational, Space Fence will be the world’s largest and most advanced radar system, providing unprecedented space situational awareness.

Beyond cataloging objects, Space Fence will detect closely-spaced objects, breakups, maneuvers, launches and conjunction assessments from LEO through GEO.

Space Fence is currently in a trial period and expected to become fully operational in 2020.

[ANS thanks Milsat Magazine for the above information]