Kwajalein Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands will host the first radar site of a Space Fence that will detect, track, and measure orbiting space objects.

When operational, the Space Fence will include several ground-based S-band radars that continuously track objects in near and mid-Earth orbit. The sensitivity and short wavelength of S-band radar lets the Fence track objects the size of a softball 1,200 miles above Earth. The Fence should improve the safety of orbiting satellites and more quickly detect such “space events” as the collision between a U.‰S. Iridium communications satellite and Russian Cosmos communications satellite in 2009. That collision alone ejected several hundred pieces of debris into orbit and each could become a menace to other spacecraft.

When completed, the Space Fence will replace the Air Force Space Surveillance System, or VHS Fence, that’s been in service since 1961.

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