Space Fence: US Air Force Space Surveillance Project

Space Fence Project of US Air Force

Our space is full of satellites, space stations, litter, junk, and debris. They are in a huge number and they are near our earth. These objects revolve around the earth in their own orbits. Individual satellites and bodies have their own trajectory, speed, and purpose. Due to many incidents and reasons, the number of space debris has increased. The debris can cause many problems, and we need to track them. Unwanted debris may collide with valuable satellites, space stations, and other bodies. This can cause a huge problem in our space. So, Space Fence is a new project by the US Air Force that helps solve tracking and space surveillance issues.

If you have seen the movie Gravity, you probably know matters in space move very fast, and they can be dangerous. These objects can get out of control and move around with a velocity of about 30000 Km/hr. This speed is very dangerous because of energy and momentum. In case of a collision with other important objects, it could cause a devastating result. More unwanted dangerous debris may be created and can float everywhere. This can also cause a chain of collisions in space which is expensive. We have many important satellites in space and if anything happens to them, a lot of problems can arise.

US Air force is spending around $1B on a new project called “Space Fence”. It is being developed by Lockheed Martin. To this day, the present monitoring system could only capture information of objects which were bigger than 10 cm. Now with the new project, we can capture details of smaller objects as well. The number of satellites and important space bodies is increasing. So it is important to control them and monitor them. This project is very much important at this time.

Space Surveillance with the new project

Space Fence is a high-value project for the USA. It is actually being developed by Lockheed Martin. They are one of the industry-leading companies in defense, radar, aircraft, and advanced manufacturing. The basic structure of the Space Fence will include ground-based S-band radars, which will be in multiple locations. It will use digital beaming technology. The space fence will also be able to track a large number of bodies. It could also predict the path or trajectory of space objects in lower earth orbit. Thus it can predict future incidents like the intersection of bodies, trajectory, and even collision.

This project is supposed to help the Air Force get prior information. So that the path, altitude, and position can be changed or maneuvered to prevent such mishappenings. The project will make it possible to track and detect small objects in every orbit of the earth. The coolest thing is that it will be able to create a micro fence for high-value satellite or object.

Lock heed project Demo
Lock heed project Demo (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

This will provide more detailed information on that body to help mitigate any future and current problems easily. The system will be integrated into the current space surveillance system for efficiency, and it will also have less bandwidth demand. The project is projected to be completed in 2019. It is a project for safety and saving money that could be lost due to mishaps in space.


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Better view and better control

Ever since we started launching rockets and payloads outside of our earth, we have been polluting it. There are lots of wanted and unwanted stuff up there. The unwanted stuff includes used rocket boosters, dead satellites, unwanted metal pieces, and debris. They float around in the orbit and pose a threat. They are always present, and the live satellites and space stations always need to be aware of them. Now a project like Space Fence can help in such a situation. We can get more data on position, trajectory, and possibility of collision. This can save money and issues that can cause due to collisions of debris.

Our space is getting crowded and polluted each day. It needs proper control and monitor to ensure the safety of other valuable assets. Satellites are very crucial for communications, scientific study, defense, and information. Just one damage to an important satellite can stall lives on earth. For example GPS satellites. Those are very important for positioning, survey, and driverless vehicles. So if anything happens to them, it can be chaotic.

There is actually another security concern, as well. In this world of advanced technology, there are many satellite threats as well. Some rogue satellites might maneuver into other’s orbit and affect the communication or spy on it. The space fence project can definitely help control those activities as it helps to monitor smaller objects. USAF has a data-sharing agreement with a few powerful countries. Those nations could also benefit from technology like this very much.


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About the Author: Abhishek Chand

Structural Engineer by profession. Computer and smartphone enthusiast. Tech-savvy blogger and former Gadget reviewer of AP1 HD TV and TechnoNepal.

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