The US Space Force installed a new high-tech radar system in space this week that can “search, track, and discriminate small, baseball-sized objects.”
When US Space Force was founded in 2019, it was ridiculed, but its role has only grown since then. It is entrusted with preserving American interests in space and providing military space capabilities to counter any attack on the US via that route.
The Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR), an extensive monitoring system, had been successfully installed at the Clear Space Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska. Following installation, the initial testing phase will commence and last until the instrument is put into service in 2023.
Once deployed, the LRDR will be part of the country’s missile defence system, tasked with delivering “continuous and precise tracking and discrimination of missile threats to the United States,” according to the agency.
“Today marks an extremely important milestone for US homeland defence,” US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) director Jon Hill said in a statement. “The LRDR has finished construction, and we can now begin the testing phase that will lead to the full operational use of this vital system.”
The LRDR has a wide field of view over huge areas of the Pacific and is stated to be capable of tracking several tiny objects as well as “all classes of ballistic missiles, at incredibly long ranges, in continuous operation.” According to the MDA’s press release, it will even be able to distinguish between destructive and non-destructive objects, which suggests it will not mix up long-range intercontinental missiles and passenger planes, for one.
“The multi-faceted nature of the LRDR will not only allow the U.S. military to better defend the country from ballistic and hypersonic missile threats but will also enable the device to be reworked to mitigate other evolving threats as necessary,” Hill added.
The United States was taken aback by a Chinese hypersonic missile test earlier this year. In a similar vein, Russia is speeding up its anti-satellite missile testing, which has dismayed the crew of the International Space Station.
However, the US Space Force’s investment in its own powers highlights an obvious fact: the world’s major nations appear to be gearing up for a conflict unlike any seen since the Cold War. Let’s hope it stays as quick and painless as it has been.