New satellite will monitor space debris from Schriever

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A Colorado-made satellite will be launched in July – and monitored from Schriever Air Force Base.

The satellite will monitor man-made objects that could be hazardous to military communications and GPS satellites.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. of Boulder designed and built the satellite for prime contractor Boeing.

Called the “space-based surveillance system,” the new hardware will provide the only capability for surveillance work from space. Traditionally, space debris is monitored with ground-based radars¬†and optical sensors.

Monitoring from space will provide 24-hour observation, eliminating limitations posed by weather and night-time skies. Every satellite in low Earth orbit will be monitored once a day so the Air Force knows what’s there, why and whether it is active or not.

Tracking debris in space has become more critical as more countries put more satellites into the low-Earth orbit.

“We’ve entered an era where space assets have an increasingly significant role in our nation’s defense,” said Lt. Gen. John T. Sheridan, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center.

The problem was underscored last year when a broken Russian satellite and an operational Iridium spacecraft collided.