Author Topic: USAF seeks space debris defense  (Read 21960 times)

Offline Star One

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USAF seeks space debris defense
« on: 05/30/2014 03:18 PM »
Quote
An emphasis on space situational awareness, also known as SSA, isn’t new. Gen. William Shelton, who will retire as head of Air Force Space Command in August, has consistently warned that space is more “competitive, congested and contested” than ever before, necessitating greater awareness of what is floating around the earth.

But this year, there was more open conversation about the need to track the hundreds of thousands of objects, most of which could rip a hole through a multimillion dollar satellite.

“Currently we track more than 23,000 objects in space,” Shelton said in his May 20 keynote address. “However, our sensors cannot see the estimated 500,000 pieces of debris between 1 and 10 centimeters in size. We’ve learned some lessons the hard way with orbital collisions and this increased traffic in space is causing collision-avoidance maneuvers at a pace we’ve never before experienced. After five decades of relatively benign operations, space is becoming an increasingly challenging place to operate.”

It’s not just debris that poses a threat to US hardware. Shelton highlighted the ways that foreign powers could target satellites in orbit, leaving a core capability of the American military offline.

“If we don’t come together as a world community to condemn this kind of weapon, we face the very real threat of making low earth orbit unusable for years,” Shelton warned.

The cornerstone of improving the Air Force’s space situational awareness is the Space Fence program. The Air Force is relying on Space Fence to “detect, track and measure an object the size of a softball orbiting more than 1,200 miles in space,” according to a service statement.

Good article on the various interrelated solutions that are being looked in relation to this problem.

http://www.c4isrnet.com/article/20140529/C4ISRNET08/305290002/USAF-seeks-space-debris-defense
« Last Edit: 05/30/2014 03:21 PM by Star One »

Offline Star One

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USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #1 on: 06/03/2014 11:30 PM »
Relating to this the Space Fence program has now been awarded by the USAF to LM. It is interesting how we get acres of coverage of the latest Space X program or whoever, yet vital safety nets such as this get ignored but I suppose these kind of things just aren't 'glamorous' enough.

Quote
The Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin the contract for its Space Fence program, worth $914.7 million.

The contract puts the world’s largest defense company in charge of developing the Space Fence system, a key asset in the service’s plans for space situational awareness (SSA). Lockheed was in competition with Raytheon for the program.

The contract awards Lockheed $415 million for RDT&E efforts immediately, while the rest will be earned over the course of the 52-month period the company has before it must reach initial operational capability.

Space Fence consists of a large S-band radar on the Kwajalein Atoll of the Marshall Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean. Due to its proximity to the equator, Kwajalein provides a wide angle for the radar to take in as much of the sky as possible. With the Earth’s rotation, the stationary radar creates a “fence” through which everything in space should pass over the course of 24 hours.

http://www.c4isrnet.com/article/20140603/C4ISRNET08/306030003/Lockheed-takes-Space-Fence-contract
« Last Edit: 06/03/2014 11:35 PM by Star One »

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #2 on: 06/04/2014 01:28 AM »
Hey I saw the announcement over at defense news today. Kinda raised an eyebrow because, let me get this straight again, they shut down the prior system before even awarding the contract for the follow on system?

To me that is worth discussing. I realize it was done that way to force the budgetary hand and to try and protect the new system, but in book there are several negative words starting with T and R I could use. So lets stay positive and be happy the system is moving forward.

....And drink some raspberry cool aid hoping the second Australian site will be built.
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Offline Avron

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #3 on: 06/04/2014 02:18 AM »
is this another "Shelton" deal?

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #4 on: 06/04/2014 03:58 AM »
It is interesting how we get acres of coverage of the latest Space X program or whoever, yet vital safety nets such as this get ignored but I suppose these kind of things just aren't 'glamorous' enough.

Many of us dream of human civilization expanding out into space.  The space fence is critical for maintaining what we already have, but it doesn't hold the promise of bring major progress in the human expansion into space.  Cheap and safe human orbital launch does hold that promise.  SpaceX seems most likely, right now, to give us cheap and safe human access to space, which is why it's more fun to think about than a space fence.

Offline Star One

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #5 on: 06/04/2014 06:58 AM »

It is interesting how we get acres of coverage of the latest Space X program or whoever, yet vital safety nets such as this get ignored but I suppose these kind of things just aren't 'glamorous' enough.

Many of us dream of human civilization expanding out into space.  The space fence is critical for maintaining what we already have, but it doesn't hold the promise of bring major progress in the human expansion into space.  Cheap and safe human orbital launch does hold that promise.  SpaceX seems most likely, right now, to give us cheap and safe human access to space, which is why it's more fun to think about than a space fence.

All very noble but it cannot be done without something like Space Fence to help make a start on this thanks to fact that as usual Humans have left so much 'litter' up in orbit.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #6 on: 06/04/2014 07:42 AM »

It is interesting how we get acres of coverage of the latest Space X program or whoever, yet vital safety nets such as this get ignored but I suppose these kind of things just aren't 'glamorous' enough.

Many of us dream of human civilization expanding out into space.  The space fence is critical for maintaining what we already have, but it doesn't hold the promise of bring major progress in the human expansion into space.  Cheap and safe human orbital launch does hold that promise.  SpaceX seems most likely, right now, to give us cheap and safe human access to space, which is why it's more fun to think about than a space fence.

All very noble but it cannot be done without something like Space Fence to help make a start on this thanks to fact that as usual Humans have left so much 'litter' up in orbit.

Absolutely.  I'm not saying it's less important.  Just less interesting to think about.

The farms that grow our food are critical to our lives.  We'd all starve to death without them.  But I'm on a spaceflight forum, not a farming forum.  That doesn't mean farms aren't important.  They're just not as interesting to think about.

Offline Star One

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #7 on: 06/04/2014 12:33 PM »


It is interesting how we get acres of coverage of the latest Space X program or whoever, yet vital safety nets such as this get ignored but I suppose these kind of things just aren't 'glamorous' enough.

Many of us dream of human civilization expanding out into space.  The space fence is critical for maintaining what we already have, but it doesn't hold the promise of bring major progress in the human expansion into space.  Cheap and safe human orbital launch does hold that promise.  SpaceX seems most likely, right now, to give us cheap and safe human access to space, which is why it's more fun to think about than a space fence.

All very noble but it cannot be done without something like Space Fence to help make a start on this thanks to fact that as usual Humans have left so much 'litter' up in orbit.

Absolutely.  I'm not saying it's less important.  Just less interesting to think about.

The farms that grow our food are critical to our lives.  We'd all starve to death without them.  But I'm on a spaceflight forum, not a farming forum.  That doesn't mean farms aren't important.  They're just not as interesting to think about.

Cleaning up the litter should be a prior priority to my mind.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #8 on: 06/04/2014 12:42 PM »
Or knowing where it is so you don't end up running it over. Remember the previous an promised future space fences are small beans when it comes to the budgets.
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Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #9 on: 06/05/2014 12:17 AM »
Or knowing where it is so you don't end up running it over. Remember the previous an promised future space fences are small beans when it comes to the budgets.

Small beans?  The contract just signed is worth nearly a billion dollars.

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #10 on: 06/05/2014 01:19 AM »
Yeah, and AFSSS (The predecessor we could no longer afford) only cost $14 million a year to operate...

btw.

An excellent article that did a great job of explaining the moving of the deck chairs back when AFSSS was shutdown. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2357/1

And the thread that appeared when AFSSS was shutdown. http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=32566.msg1082641#msg1082641

Is this months flavor still raspberry?
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Offline Comga

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #11 on: 06/05/2014 06:43 AM »
I have seen not one word about "defense".
This is all " situational awareness".
[sarcasm]
And that's not worth spending $14M a per year on so it can't be very important.
It worked so well to kill the Saturns years before Shuttle and Shuttle years before Orion or Commercial Crew and the F-22 production well before they deploy the F-35....
[/sarcasm]

Edit: added tag although the first line may not be
« Last Edit: 06/05/2014 07:29 PM by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #12 on: 06/05/2014 11:57 AM »
Comga, you forgot to use the [satire] tag ;)
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Offline Star One

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #13 on: 06/09/2014 05:13 PM »
Quote
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force’s contract with Lockheed Martin to develop a next-generation space surveillance system includes measures to ensure compatibility with the service’s situation room for space activity, which also is undergoing a major upgrade.

http://www.spacenews.com/article/military-space/40839space-fence-development-closely-tied-to-upgrade-of-us-air-force-control

Offline Burninate

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #14 on: 06/10/2014 08:28 AM »
Yeah, and AFSSS (The predecessor we could no longer afford) only cost $14 million a year to operate...

btw.

An excellent article that did a great job of explaining the moving of the deck chairs back when AFSSS was shutdown. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2357/1

And the thread that appeared when AFSSS was shutdown. http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=32566.msg1082641#msg1082641

Is this months flavor still raspberry?
Quote
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force’s contract with Lockheed Martin to develop a next-generation space surveillance system includes measures to ensure compatibility with the service’s situation room for space activity, which also is undergoing a major upgrade.

http://www.spacenews.com/article/military-space/40839space-fence-development-closely-tied-to-upgrade-of-us-air-force-control

So the synopsis, if I'm reading this right, is that the Air Force wanted to upgrade their space fence radar to 10x higher frequency, which could detect objects at 1/10 the size they can now, and they chose to shut down their old site as obsolete in the hopes of prodding Congress to erect a new one speedily.  They were successful, sort of - delayed from last year's budget problems, it was just bid out, though it will only be complete in 2022.
« Last Edit: 06/10/2014 08:34 AM by Burninate »

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #15 on: 06/10/2014 11:57 AM »
That's been the synopsis of most articles on the subject. Yes... Shutdown the primary asset so they have to build a newer better asset and pray they can cover the gap in the interim.
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Offline Star One

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #16 on: 06/10/2014 02:54 PM »

That's been the synopsis of most articles on the subject. Yes... Shutdown the primary asset so they have to build a newer better asset and pray they can cover the gap in the interim.

It appears on the face of it a risky strategy but it appears to have worked. I presume it links into their on orbit assets, but not to be speculated on as it's probably classified.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #17 on: 06/10/2014 04:20 PM »
It appears on the face of it a risky strategy but it appears to have worked. I presume it links into their on orbit assets, but not to be speculated on as it's probably classified.

I think it's a little hasty to say the gambit worked. The new system has only been contracted and will still have a coverage gap until 2018.

It has to go forward, only because there is now a gap. They just insured themselves a program, no matter how large the cost overruns.

If a preventable event occurs between now and 2018 the gambit will have failed and the money saved wasted. Though one would have to prove that the uncued search capability of the older system would have prevented the event(s). And then we enter the spin zone...
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Offline Comga

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Re: USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #18 on: 06/10/2014 05:05 PM »
It appears on the face of it a risky strategy but it appears to have worked. I presume it links into their on orbit assets, but not to be speculated on as it's probably classified.

I think it's a little hasty to say the gambit worked. The new system has only been contracted and will still have a coverage gap until 2018.

It has to go forward, only because there is now a gap. They just insured themselves a program, no matter how large the cost overruns.

If a preventable event occurs between now and 2018 the gambit will have failed and the money saved wasted. Though one would have to prove that the uncued search capability of the older system would have prevented the event(s). And then we enter the spin zone...

What Kevin_rf said
It all depends on how you define "worked".
So far it is working for Lockheed.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Star One

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USAF seeks space debris defense
« Reply #19 on: 06/10/2014 08:45 PM »
It appears on the face of it a risky strategy but it appears to have worked. I presume it links into their on orbit assets, but not to be speculated on as it's probably classified.

I think it's a little hasty to say the gambit worked. The new system has only been contracted and will still have a coverage gap until 2018.

It has to go forward, only because there is now a gap. They just insured themselves a program, no matter how large the cost overruns.

If a preventable event occurs between now and 2018 the gambit will have failed and the money saved wasted. Though one would have to prove that the uncued search capability of the older system would have prevented the event(s). And then we enter the spin zone...

That's a fair point, but you might argue that they were forced into such a gambit by the tight control of their political masters on the purse strings when it came to paying for this necessary upgrade.
« Last Edit: 06/10/2014 08:45 PM by Star One »

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