CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – The United States plans to launch a pair of satellites to keep tabs on spacecraft from other countries orbiting 22,300 miles above the planet, as well as to track space debris, the head of Air Force Space Command said.
The previously classified Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) will supplement ground-based radars and optical telescopes in tracking thousands of pieces of debris so orbital collisions can be avoided, General William Shelton said at the Air Force Association meeting in Orlando on Friday.
He called it a “neighborhood watch program” that will provide a more detailed perspective on space activities. He said the satellites, scheduled to be launched this year, also will be used to ferret out potential threats from other spacecraft.
The program “will bolster our ability to discern when adversaries attempt to avoid detection and to discover capabilities they may have which might be harmful to our critical assets at these higher altitudes,” Shelton said in the speech, which also was posted on the Air Force Association’s website.
The two-satellite network, built by Orbital Sciences Corp will drift around the orbital corridor housing much of the world’s communications satellites and other spacecraft.
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