Monday, November 7, 2011

Eglin's space junk trackers

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – It's not one of the better-known space-related programs in the Gulf Coast, but tucked in the woods of Eglin Air Force Base is the 20th Space Control Squadron. Its mission is to track space debris. There's about 25,000 separate objects circling earth, with one re-entry into the atmosphere a week. Most burn up. The radar is behind a 9-story wall, and personnel use a screen with objects assigned numbers, similar to an air traffic control screen. (Source: WEAR-TV, 11/03/11) Note: The phased array radar at Site C-6, some 35 miles east of the main gate, is one of the most powerful in the world and has been tracking debris in near and deep space for 40 years. For background, see Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2011-2012, Part II, Space Activities, pages 36-37.