Lockheed Martin is travelling to Australia to help fight space junk

In the movie Gravity, masses upon masses of floating debris hurtled through space at alarming speeds and collided with the heroine’s space shuttle, killing her crew. Space junk isn’t just something made up for the movies, though, it’s a real issue that’s costing space agencies a whole lotta money. As such, Lockheed Martin has teamed up with Australian company Electro Optic Systems to build a space object tracking facility in western Australia, which the latter has been planning for years. While the U.S. Air Force’s debris-tracking Space Fence uses radar systems, this one will use an optical technology like those found in telescopes to zoom in on objects, and lasers to calculate their speed and distance from Earth.

Space junk has become a real-life worry of the kind depicted in the hit Hollywood movie ‘Gravity,’ where a storm of debris rips through a spacecraft in orbit and leaves the crew stranded. Now, U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp. has joined with a Canberra-based tech company to build a tracking station in the Australian Outback that can follow debris as small as a baseball threatening commercial and government satellites orbiting the Earth. “There are up to 200 threats a day identified for orbiting satellites,” said Trevor Thomas, a Lockheed Martin spokesman. “Most satellites can sustain some damage, but little bits of junk hit satellites every day and each, on average, is worth around $500 million.” Lockheed and partner Electro Optic Systems Holdings Ltd. aim to use optical and laser tracking technology first proven on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to track debris moving at speeds of 17,500 miles an hour. The equipment deployed in Western Australia would be in addition to radar-based systems, such as the U.S. Air Force’s Space Fence, which can follow as many as 200,000 objects.

Categorized as Space

By Alfie Joshua

+Alfie Joshua is the editor at Auto in the News. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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