A Star is Born

A sodium guide star laser began operating on a telescope at the Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland AFB, N.M., announced Boeing. The 50-watt laser, built by Boeing and the Air Force Research Lab, is intended to improve space situational awareness by creating more detailed images of space objects in Earth orbit, according to an Oct. 16 company release. The laser “will make it possible for us to reliably obtain satellite images with more accurate and precise details than ever before,” said AFRL’s Dennis Montera. David DeYoung, Boeing’s director of laser technical services, said the new technology is an “evolutionary step” toward maturing adaptive optics. “It is much more reliable than the device that has been in use for the past eight years,” said DeYoung. He added, “The team’s achievement of ‘first light’ is a testament to our close working relationship with the Air Force and our commitment to support current and future missions.”