The Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) is a military telescope that can detect and track faint objects in the sky. It has now been declared to be capable of initial operations by the Australian Department of Defense and U.S. Space Force, an organizational press release said.
The exponential rise in space-based technologies has created the possibility of a space attack. Last month, Interesting Engineering reported how the adversarial countries hopped on a meeting to discuss ways to combat an attack like that.
Telescopes like the SST have been part of the Pentagon’s Space Surveillance Network (SSN), which tracks thousands of objects in space, including space debris and active satellites.
To enhance its coverage in the Southern Hemisphere, the Pentagon has signed an agreement with Australia in 2013 to move the SST to the smallest continent.
According to the agreement, the SST, which was installed at the White Sands Missiles Range in New Mexico was to be sent to Australia in 2017. It was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is capable of locating and tracking debris up to 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.
Even after relocation, the SST is still owned by the U.S. but operated and maintained by the Royal Australian Air Force. In March 2020, the SST took its first images from the new home at the Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt. After over two years of continuous testing and evaluation, it is now fit to have the initial operational capability. The press release added that full operational capacity is expected to be achieved by late 2023.