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NASA Space The Military Science Technology

Air Force Sets First Post In Ambitious Space Fence Project 65

coondoggie writes "The US Air Force this week said it will base the first Space Fence radar post on Kwajalein Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands with the site planned to be operational by 2017. The Space Fence is part of the Department of Defense's effort to better track and detect space objects which can consist of thousands of pieces of space debris as well as commercial and military satellite parts."
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Air Force Sets First Post In Ambitious Space Fence Project

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  • Also... (Score:5, Funny)

    by outsider007 ( 115534 ) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @03:11AM (#41474883)

    It will keep out the Space Mexicans.

  • Guess they have discovered that crime DOES pay.
    "A fence is an individual who knowingly buys stolen property for later resale, sometimes in a legitimate market." []

  • Space Fence, eh....

    I'm a little bit suspicious. What else can this site track? Will the US be sharing its data with everyone, or will there be many convenient holes in coverage?

    • Applications are:
      1. Track other spy satellites, of the Russians, Indians, Chinese. In the future, I guess that these countries will have hundreds of those - many quite small.

      2. Avoid collisions of their own satellites. The US also has hundreds of satellites in orbit.

      3. Avoid collisions of other (commercial?) satellites, thereby protecting US economic interests.

      In this particular case, I don't care whether they share. Even if they don't share, I am not particularly worried. What flies overhead shouldn't be h

    • Well, it can probably track in-flight ICBMs, but that's all I can think of (and those aren't exactly new).

    • Space Fence, eh....

      I'm a little bit suspicious. What else can this site track? Will the US be sharing its data with everyone, or will there be many convenient holes in coverage?

      Obviously they're going to track every object of concern that they can. The project makes no sense otherwise.

      My guess is that the information will be redacted before it is shared, to remove anything that is strategically sensitive. That includes, for example, information about spy satellites, whether they're "ours" or "theirs."

      As for whether this project is intended to track stuff for strategic gain, I'd be surprised if that didn't happen, but I'm not sure that's its primary purpose.

      • This is the best reply I've read here. I think that back when they built the current system (article says 1961) the military wanted to know where everything was so they could identify the military threats. (You also don't want to launch your counter-strike when that Russian rocket booster burns up over Alaska.) That's still the case, but the use for collision avoidance is becoming more important now. The data go into real-time calculations and also into long-term environmental [] models [].

        The data (sure...m
    • Didn't you read the title? The whole thing is there to get first post. Therefore it obviously tracks Slashdot stories.

  • Step 2: Stay off my Space Lawn, you pesky kids!!
  • Damn! The Air Force beat me to it.
  • Son of a bitch. Anywhere but government would I be laughed at with such a proposal. "5 years before yielding any results" would normally require a "fuck off" by normal people.
    • Thanks for providing a fine example of the short-term thinking that's endemic to the private sector. This is exactly why governments can, and do, accomplish useful things that the private sector can't. Or do you really believe that everything important can be done in less than five years?

  • Am I the only one who, upon reading the words "first post", thought this article had something to do with Natalie Portman, hot grits, and somebody's pants?
  • Someone who would buy and sell stolen moon rocks, and pieces of crashed satellites

    But I did think of another idea.

    If you wanted to build a space fence, you would need a very high fence post, going up to 50,000 miles or so. (well it could be shorted but it would have to have a counterweight at the top, so that the center of mass is at 25,000 miles, and it would orbit above a spot on the equator without needing any fuel to keep it there.
    You could also call it a 'Clarke Tower' after the guy who wrote about it.

  • by toejam13 ( 958243 ) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @12:34PM (#41479027)

    The USAF already has a system for detecting objects orbiting the planet called SPASUR. It operates on the VHF band just above the North American slot for TV channel 13.

    The new "space fence" will operate on the S band, which is a microwave frequency. The idea is that the shorter wavelength will allow ground radar to detect smaller debris than could be detected with the longer wavelength SPASUR system.

    • by DECula ( 6113 ) *

          The current system has a transmitter near Wichita Falls, TX and some folks in New Mexico have a
          receiver you can listen to online that provides a tone when something reflects the signal.
          Works good during meteor showers.
          Take a listen at:

The absent ones are always at fault.