AF to step up space-junk tracking

AF to step up space-junk tracking

The Air Force will improve its ability to track space junk later this year when airmen begin using a new suite of equipment to help them watch it all, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said last week.

Schwartz said “debris management” — monitoring all the old parts of rockets, satellites and other human-made stuff that’s in orbit along with today’s working space traffic — is a top priority for the Air Force. As he broke it down, the sheer number of objects involved make it clear why:

Currently utilizing a legacy system dating back to the mid-1980s, airmen of the Joint Space Operations Center, or ―JSPOC, can look to initial operational capability—we anticipate toward the end of this year—of the first increment of the new JSPOC Mission System, to enhance their processing of some 155 million sensor observations, and their tracking of approximately 22,000 manmade objects in orbit.


Last year, we completed the restructuring of the JSPOC Mission System acquisition program to better align initial capability deliveries with current operational needs. With the future automation of many of today’s manual tasks, and the incorporation of staggering amounts of sensor inputs, we will be afforded with a more efficient fusion of data from disparate sources, all toward a correlated situational awareness picture and comprehensive, relevant, and actionable information for a variety of space users—civil, commercial, and military.

With the new JSPOC Mission System, we will be better poised to make even more substantial contributions to broader space situational awareness efforts, involving partner governments, intergovernmental organizations, and global commercial entities, in detecting, warning of, and attributing space systems disturbances, whether stemming from natural or manmade causes.

The trouble, of course, is that no matter how well you track space junk, there always seems to be more of it. As you’ve read, the U.S. stands behind the idea of an international space “code of conduct,” but there doesn’t seem to be much urgency about putting it into place.

H/T: Daily Report

Join the Conversation

Thank you for this article. This is one of many incredible services that USAF provides that people take for granted. Despite all USAF’s faults, when we take into consideration all of the benefits USAF provides to the warfighter, taxpayer, nation and the world, we should be proud of this historic, innovative institution, and grateful to all who have served in its ranks.

May JSPOC live long and prosper.

Quick some one needs to make MEGA MAID form Space-balls to suck up all the space junk!!! LOL

Just joking but the main thing is that US junk is mall compared to Russian and now Chinese junk shot into orbit they just dont care abut keeping earth orbit safe.

Lance, there’s still stuff up there from the old Apollo days. Pretty much any rocket that’s left the atmosphere has contributed to the “junk pile.”

Well the number of space junk up there maybe mostly divided between the big three but there is some from the European Space program also. Then breakdown the space race, communication race, military race, observation race, and so on (yes, I gave names to simplify topics which have rather deep subjects and security clearances) which helps take in most of the other junk up there. I have been following much of what goes up there most of my life and have seen some of it return without the glory it went up with.

We have a salvage program for junk on the planet, cars, air planes ect, why not start a division to salvage this space junk, mabe some of this stuff can be reused, salvaging space junk will practically pay for itself. We have become a throw-away people/planet, I mean, everything we make is designed to last for mabe three years if we’re lucky. Lets get back to makeing things that last, like we use to be. Eventually this stuff is gonna fall back to Earth, and as paranoid as some people are, they might think we are under attack.….from Martians or something.

There are several efforts, both public and private, looking into doing this. The problem is ownership and the law. A “dead” Russian satellite still belongs to the Russians. Salvage rights are a tricky thing.

There have been several attempts to replace SPADOC (the legacy processor), JMS has had at least one false start, I wish the program and JSPOC well but don’t unplug SPADOC yet

Maybe it is time to develop a system to collect and recycle the space trash.

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