U.S. Space Force’s “Space Fence” orbital tracking system is in operation

According tomedia TechCrunch, the U.S. space force is a relatively young new branch of the U.S. armed forces, but that doesn’t mean it has no “combat” assets. Late last week, for example, the U.S. space force announced that its Space Fence radar system was now operational. The “space fence” is actually a radar system designed to track objects in orbit, including but not limited to commercial and military satellites.

The “space fence” ground infrastructure is located in the Marshall Islands and is currently in the “initial operational capability and operational acceptance” phase. The plan will track the 26,000 orbiting objects that already exist in the existing Space Surveillance Network (SSN), but the space force says it wants to add the list quickly through an update to the new operational phase.

To support detailed tracking of objects within this orbital range, Lockheed Martin has developed radar observation technology for U.S. space forces that can track objects about the size of marble in low-Earth orbit. With such fine-grained observation capabilities, the final catalog is likely to eventually include every active and passive potential observation, communication and possibly militarized space assets that almost anyone can undertake.

Knowing that terrain is key to the success of any military operation, the official launch of the “space fence” is an important milestone for the space force. It also recently launched its first dedicated payload: a high-frequency security communications satellite, which, combined with existing constellations in space, provides communications services for military operations on Earth, land, at sea and in the air.