A NEW US Air Force satellite will provide the first full-time, space-based surveillance of hundreds of satellites and thousands of pieces of debris that could crash into American and allied assets circling Earth.
If all goes as planned, the Space-Based Space Surveillance satellite, scheduled for a July 8 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif, will have an unobstructed, around-the-clock view of the increasingly heavy traffic in Earth orbit – something the Air Force doesn’t have now. Currently, the Air Force relies on a ground-based network of radar and optical telescopes around the globe to monitor about 1,000 active satellites and 20,000 pieces of debris. The telescopes can be used only on clear nights, and not all radar stations are powerful enough to detect satellites in deep space orbit, about 22,000 miles from Earth.
From its orbit about 390 miles above the Earth, the satellite will have a clear view of deep space, unaffected by daylight or weather.
“It really has tremendous capabilities,” said Todd Citron, director of advanced space and intelligence systems for Boeing Co, prime contractor for the satellite, known asSBSS.
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