United States Space Force / Public domain

The US Space Force, President Trump’s (really) optimist addition to the United States defence forces, has announced the debut of its Space Fence radar system, which will keep a track of virtually all objects in Earth’s orbit. The technology took around $1.5 billion to develop, but finally became operational after 5 years in development, on 27th March.

The newest arm of the US military — Space Force — announced this tracking mechanism with the aim to track almost all objects in the orbit, including commercial and military satellites, thus increasing America’s already well established stronghold in the defence department.

The Space Fence ground infrastructure is based in Kwajalein Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands , and is currently in the “initial operational capability and operational acceptance” phase. The technology was developed by Lockheed Martin, and enables Space Force to track objects as minute as a marble, from thousands of kilometers away, in the Earth’s lower orbit. At higher orbit, the technology provides a search capability for objects. With this enhanced functionality, suffice to say, US Space Force will be able to monitor all the objects in Earth’s orbit, including militarized satellites by other nations.

At its launch, the technology will monitor about 26,000 orbital objects that have already been accounted for in the existing Space Surveillance Network (SSN). However, the department hopes to increase this number very soon, by adding its own satellites in the catalog. In fact, Space Force already had its first payload delivered in the orbit by United Launch Alliance on March 27. The satellite was launched with the purpose of providing strategic, reliable and secure communications for U.S. armed forces on Earth across land, sea and air.

“It is a really, really important launch,” Lieutenant General John F Thompson, Commander of the Space and Missiles Systems Centre in California said after the launch of the satellite. “It’s the very first launch for the US Space Force. “There are critical things, or mission essential things, that the US Department of Defence does every day. Even in the face of a global pandemic we must continue to perform mission essential tasks.

“[The satellite] supports the president and other world leaders with critical communications around the planet. This launch extends that communication into a timeframe beyond 2030.”

Space Fence will be operated by the 20th Space Control Squadron based in Huntsville, Alabama.