Beefed Up Monitoring

The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., is now capable of monitoring all of the more than 800 active maneuverable satellites on orbit to warn of pending collisions with other satellites and known space debris. The center’s capacity rose from being able to track 120 satellites to the current figure on Aug. 23, more than one month ahead of its Oct. 1 goal. The US began to place greater emphasis on more extensive satellite tracking for impact avoidance following the collision of a commercial Iridium satellite and inactive Russian military satellite in February. Since the JSpOC started screening all the satellites, it has warned of six predicted collisions. With data provided by the center, satellite operators can safely steer their spacecraft from harm. (Vandenberg report by A1C Heather R. Shaw)