Welcome To The Dark Matter Digital Network

Help wanted to operate and maintain Air Force deep space telescopes

The Air Force Space Command last week posted a “sources sought” notice for the operations and maintenance of a network of space staring telescopes known as the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance System. The Air Force is sizing up the market and not seeking bids yet. Responses are due April 23. The notice came from the 21st Contracting Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The squadron is looking for help providing 16-hour-a-day, seven-day a week operations of GEODSS sites at Socorro, New Mexico; Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory; and Maui, Hawaii. A fourth GEODSS site in South Korea was closed in 1993. According to the Air Force, the three sites provide nearly complete coverage of the Earth’s geosynchronous orbital belt and deliver nearly 80 percent of all geosynchronous observations. The data is sent to the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and to U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Intelligence Center at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. This is the military’s primary deep space tracking system. The first site at Socorro, at the White Sands Missile Range, started operation in 1982. The GEODSS uses nine large telescopes at the three locations to track objects by using reflected sunlight, so it can only operate on clear nights. It can likely detect objects as small as a half-meter in geosynchronous orbits. The telescopes were upgraded in the mid-2000s under a program called Deep Stare. Analog sensors were replaced with digital focal plane arrays. The Air Force Space Command noted that the upgrade gave the GEODDS sites “some of the most accurate and sensitive optical telescopes in the world.” A fact sheet says the system can track objects as small as a basketball more than 20,000 miles away and is a “vital part of the AFSPC’s space surveillance network. Read More: SpaceNews.com

Leave a comment