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Space The Military Earth Technology

Shiny New Space Fence To Monitor Orbiting Junk 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the good-space-fences-make-good-neighbors dept.
coondoggie writes "Some work has begun on tracking and detecting the overabundance of space junk which has become a growing priority as all manner of satellites, rockets and possible commercial space shots are promised in the coming few years. Today Northrop Grumman said it grabbed $30 million from the US Air Force to start developing the first phase of a global space surveillance ground radar system. The new S-Band Space Fence is part of the Department of Defense's effort to detect and track what are known as resident space objects (RSO), consisting of thousands of pieces of space debris as well as commercial and military satellites. The new Space Fence will replace the current VHF Air Force Space Surveillance System built in 1961."
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Shiny New Space Fence To Monitor Orbiting Junk

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  • Current Fact Sheet (Score:4, Informative)

    by JumboMessiah (316083) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @10:12PM (#28711559)

    The fact sheet [secureworl...dation.org] [PDF Warning] on the current VHF system in use.

  • Planetes? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ArchMageZeratuL (1276832) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @10:23PM (#28711651)
    This reminds me of Planetes, a TV anime series by NHK (the Japanese equivalent of PBS/BBC) about the consequences of runaway space garbage in the near future (2072) of humanity. It's an interesting story, and it gets major extra points from me for being remarkably realistic.
  • Re:Deorbit (Score:5, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @10:29PM (#28711713) Homepage Journal
    Its not cold up there. Its in a vacuum. Vacuum doesn't have a temperature.

    But liquid water released into a vacuum will partly sublimate and partly freeze. Then the frozen water will slowly sublimate as photons from the sun hit it. If you can disperse the water fast enough in vacuum it should sublimate fast because of the huge surface area.

    A different liquid (like Nitrogen) may do a better job.
  • Re:Deorbit (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @10:49PM (#28711867) Homepage Journal
    That is how satellite killer missles work. Unfortunately, any solution to this problem must take into account the fact that there are many thousands of pieces of space junk big enough to track.
  • Space junk (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @11:07PM (#28711991)

    Probably nothing compared to the tests the russans [wikipedia.org] or chinese [wikipedia.org] did.

  • Here in the UK... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @11:54PM (#28712273)

    We have a system called NaviSys IV. The project has been going on since the '70s and originally involved large UHF and SHF antennas on balloons/blimps. That idea did not work out well as constant monitoring eventually was needed for tracking spy satellites and movements (e.g. attitude correction), and we went with a ground-based operation either running at L or S-band, but I can't remember which.

    I used to be a technician for the tracking consoles back in the '80s before everything became fully automated. Everything then was mundane as it is now, and the old technology worked very well. Supposedly objects about a half metre were tracked, but that was "classified" information at the time.

    It would appear to me that an American corporation is just trying to get yet another contract to do the same thing that they have been doing for years. VHF/UHF has some disadvantages, but the system in place is (or at least was) similar to the UK's. It looks like yet another money grab by the contractors to replace something that is fully functional and could operate for a generation or two at a nominal cost. What, after all, is a mere $30 million USD, though?

    I sigh when I read these articles.

  • Re:Trapped on earth (Score:2, Informative)

    by EricJ2190 (1016652) <EricJ2190@gma i l .com> on Thursday July 16, 2009 @01:51AM (#28713011) Homepage
    What you are thinking of is the Kessler Syndrome [wikimedia.org].

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