Today, the US military’s global network of terrestrial-based radar and optical sensors keeps tab on approximately 21,500 objects orbiting the Earth, an increase of 1,700 items compared to this time last year, Lt. Gen. Larry James, 14th Air Force commander, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday. Of these, there are nearly 10,000 pieces of debris, 6,800 unknown objects, 3,700 dead satellites and rocket pieces, and more than 1,100 active satellites. The Air Force is now able to keep track of all active satellites, predict when pieces of debris or satellites will re-enter the atmosphere, recommend when to safely launch a new payload, and prevent potential satellite collisions. In fact, Gen. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command boss, told these lawmakers that “there have already been 56 instances” where satellite owners maneuvered their spacecraft to avoid possible collisions based on USAF information. (James prepared remarks) (Kehler prepared remarks)
Changes are coming this year for Airmen taking professional military education (PME) distance learning courses. Closer interactions with facilitators, a revised capstone course, and more feedback on test performance are meant to improve the overall experience for distance learning students, who often include members of the Air National Guard.