Skip to comments.Europe Keeping Increasingly Capable Eye on Orbital Debris
Posted on 04/21/2010 6:29:56 PM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld
Germanys five SAR-Lupe radar reconnaissance satellites in 2009 faced more than 800 close encounters with orbital junk or other operating satellites, including 32 passes at less than one kilometer from another SAR-Lupe spacecraft and one that required a collision-avoidance maneuver, the head of the new German Space Situational Awareness Center (GSSAC) said.
Controllers of Frances Helios optical reconnaissance spacecraft, which operate in a different orbit, also were obliged to perform an avoidance maneuver in 2009 following an imminent-collision warning by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network, a French government official said.
The vulnerability of SAR-Lupe is one reason why the German army created the space-surveillance unit in Uedem, a facility that is expected to be expanded in the next three years as Germany and other nations in Europe create their own space-monitoring capability.
Speaking at the Milspace 2010 conference organized by the SMi Group here April 20, Col. Harald Borst, GSSACs director, said German authorities are becoming concerned that even small, relatively poor nations are now able to afford their own satellites, making space-traffic management, particularly in low Earth orbit, an increasing necessity.
The five SAR-Lupe satellites fly in three orbital planes in near-polar orbits at about 500 kilometers in altitude.
Germanys defense forces, in a rare move, have invested cash in a European Space Agency-led program to design a European space surveillance system starting with ground-based radars already existing in Germany and France.
(Excerpt) Read more at spacenews.com ...