25 October 2012
Posted in Space Junk
Currently, the military is tracking about 20,000 pieces of “space junk,” or orbital debris, ranging from the size of a softball to the size of a bus! All debris, regardless of size, are a danger to manned space flights such as the International Space Station and unmanned operations such as the hundreds of satellites that bring us television, run GPS and carry cellular service.
The Space Fence program, which has been managed by the Air Force and has tracked this rising issue since the 1960s, is looking for a $3.5 million update. Much like any other, the Air Force’s fence is worn out and in need of repair before any debris slip through the cracks. Construction is set to begin at the end of 2013 and will be completed in 2017. The fence will have greater sensitivity allowing it to detect, track and measure objects orbiting more than 1,200 miles in space. The upgrade will also allow the military to receive evidence of satellite break-ups, collisions and unexpected satellite maneuvers.
The Space Fence program aims to help contain the issue, but how do we prevent and eliminate it? That question is still being answered by scientists around the world.
To learn more, visit the Orlando Science Center for showings of Space Junk in the Dr. Phillips CineDome.