The device is designed to track and identify debris and satellites more than 22,000 miles above Earth according to space news. It is expected to be in operation by 2022. It was developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory with funding from the Defence Advanced Research Agency and tested between 2011 and 2017 before being handed over to the United States Air Force.
Washington and Canberra signed an agreement to base the telescope in Australia.
This was to cover gaps in the former’s coverage of space from the Southern Hemisphere.
It is not the first military base the US will have in Australia.
Currently, there is Pine Gap – a jointly operate surveillance base 11 miles southwest of Alice Springs.
Also, a site in Darwin is used by the Marine Air-Gound Task Force.
A dome for the new telescope has been built at the Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Centre.
This is about four miles north of the town of Exmouth.
A 2MW central power station powers the facility.
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The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will operate the telescope jointly with the United States Space Force (USSF).
The USSF was founded in 1982 as part of the United States Air Force Space Command.
Four months ago, it became an independent service.
The USSF website says: “Space has become essential to our security and prosperity – so much so that we need a branch of our military dedicated to its defence, just like we have branches of the military dedicated to protecting and securing the air, land, and sea.
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“Unfettered access to space is vital to national defence.
“Space systems are woven into the fabric of our way of life.
“Space affects almost every part of our daily lives and is fundamental to our economic system.
“For example, satellites not only power the GPS technology that we use daily, but allow us to surf the web and call our friends, enable first responders to communicate with each other in times of crisis, time-stamp transactions in the world financial market, and even allow us to use credit cards at gas pumps.”
The website also notes reviews are being undertaken of all USAF installations before public confirmation is made as to what bases the new force will have.
On the members of the force, USSF says: “The organization, Air Force Space Command, was redesignated as the U.S. Space Force.
“The personnel who belonged to AFSPC are now assigned to the USSF, but currently remain Airmen with the U.S. Air Force.
“Airmen in select space-related jobs will be transferred into the USSF (becoming members of the USSF) in deliberate manner over the next 18 months, while other Airmen will remain assigned to the USSF in a supporting role.”
The United States is the only country in the world with an independent space force, though the Russian Space Force also previously existed as an independent standalone branch.
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