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Space The Military Science Technology

Prototype Space Fence Now Tracking Actual Orbital Debris 33

Posted by Soulskill
from the neither-a-fence-nor-in-space dept.
coondoggie writes "Lockheed Martin says the prototype system it is developing to track all manner of space debris is now tracking actual orbiting space objects. The Space Fence prototype includes new ground-based radars and other technologies to enhance the way the U.S. detects, tracks, measures and catalogs orbiting objects and space debris with improved accuracy, better timeliness and increased surveillance coverage. 'Space Fence will detect, track and catalog over 200,000 orbiting objects and help transform space situational awareness from being reactive to predictive. The Air Force will have more time to anticipate events potentially impacting space assets and missions. Our net-centric design approach allows Space Fence to be easily integrated into the broader U.S. Space Surveillance Network of sensors already operated by the Air Force.'"
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Prototype Space Fence Now Tracking Actual Orbital Debris

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  • Finally (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The Earth can yell "get off my lawn" and have it mean something.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      The Earth can yell "get off my lawn" and have it mean something.

      Too late, 200,000 kids already on the lawn.

      we're gonna need a bigger lawn

  • Weird name (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fahlesr1 (1910982) on Friday March 09, 2012 @06:22PM (#39306615)

    Seems like a better name would be "SpaceWatch" or something. The word "Fence" implies it can block debris . When I think of tracking I typically don't think of fences.

    Still, sounds like a neat project.

    • by yogidog98 (1800862) on Friday March 09, 2012 @06:32PM (#39306715)

      MPAA ruled out their first choice, so they use the closest synonyms they could find:
      Sky->Space, Net->Fence.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Seems like a better name would be "SpaceWatch" or something. The word "Fence" implies it can block debris . When I think of tracking I typically don't think of fences.

      Still, sounds like a neat project.

      It's putting me in mine of Opus's Star Wars project, tying billions of dollars together in space to form a big net. Oliver Wendell Jones tries to sell congress on it, "Whaddya think? Too goofy?" -- Followed by newspaper headlines: THEY BOUGHT IT!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Its called a fence b/c the radar scans a slice of the sky and in 'uncued' mode detects items that cross the fence or a sclice of sky, not a volume. But with the S band, can then 'cue' and follow the item to get better tracking data with updates...

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      I think the "fence" refers to the structure of the transmitting antennas.

    • by Nivag064 (904744)
      I think in this case it refers to stolen property, for a 'fence' is someone who buys or sells stolen property. :-)
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday March 09, 2012 @06:28PM (#39306671) Homepage Journal

    Is Megamaid [photobucket.com]

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday March 09, 2012 @06:35PM (#39306751)

    . . . another man calls, "my spy satellite" . . .
    As in:
    "Hey, you destroyed my spy satellite!"
    "Oh, sorry, it looked like space debris to me. I was just trying to tidy up a bit."

  • I know it is not NASA, and likely designed largely to protect expensive corporate resources. But still, we send fewer and fewer people up, but we watch every washer and paint fleck that is up there more. Saddens me.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday March 09, 2012 @06:39PM (#39306789) Homepage

    This "fence" system, like some earlier fence systems, is called that because it's a bistatic (or multistatic) radar. The transmitters and receivers are at different locations, and the transmitted beam is not steered. Targets are located by time differences between what's received at multiple receivers. The previous system [wikipedia.org] had three transmitter sites and six receiver sites, spread across the US.

    Fence systems are somewhat specialized, but a good way to find everything that crosses the fence volume. Once the RF gear is in place, it's mostly a processing problem. Unlike regular radars, there's no useful information without correlating multiple receiving stations.

    • by radionerd (916462) on Friday March 09, 2012 @07:39PM (#39307315) Journal
      Actually, it's the current, working system. Space Weather has a nice link to a receiver that lets you listen to the echos from stuff flying through the fence http://spaceweatherradio.com/ [spaceweatherradio.com] Or you can do it your self....If you're within several hundred miles of Lake Kickapoo, Texas, and have a receiver that can hear 216.98 MHz, you can hear the echos of things flying through the fence... Big fun if you're a radio nerd :-)
  • Holy Junk! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Niscenus (267969) <ericzen.ez-net@com> on Friday March 09, 2012 @06:54PM (#39306951) Homepage Journal

    That summary ignores we already have that!

    It only sounds interesting if you A) Don't know that we've had that capability since NORAD tracked Sputnik with similar projects done by every major space administration on Earth, or B) Didn't bother reading the infrastructure proposed.

    And now, the troll that has a joke for, "Holy Junk!"

  • Space superiority. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrQuacker (1938262) on Friday March 09, 2012 @08:33PM (#39307873)

    We will soon reach a point where not having such predictive capabilities will doom any launched vehicle to a debris collision. Its interesting to think that such a program provides so much space superiority over other nations.

    • We will soon reach a point where not having such predictive capabilities will doom any launched vehicle to a debris collision. Its interesting to think that such a program provides so much space superiority over other nations.

      It's also interesting to think that blasting several rockets into orbit, then exploding them to create more debris is a rung reachable by even the lowliest of space faring nations.

      Tracking and collecting space junk could become very important if even one such nation decides: "If I can't have it, no one can!"
      IIRC, China tested their capability to create space debris [spacewar.com] by destroying a satellite.

  • by Jon Abbott (723) on Friday March 09, 2012 @10:22PM (#39308749) Homepage

    Here is the LM YouTube video regarding Space Fence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SJdN90vT04 [youtube.com]

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