In the movie “Gravity,” an exploding satellite sets off a chain reaction, generating the high-velocity debris cloud that eventually destroys a space shuttle and sets two astronauts adrift in space.
While the movie is science fiction, the possibility of debris damaging satellites is real. Boeing says its Space-Based Space Surveillance program has slashed the danger of satellites being lost to space debris and other threats by two-thirds.
SBSS, which became operational last April, has performed more than 3.8 million observations of deep-space objects. The space-based system can traverse its on-board sensor far more quickly than ground-based systems, according to Boeing.
"This capability results in a fivefold increase in observations and an estimated reduction in satellite loss of 66 percent, based on data from capabilities available prior to SBSS's deployment," said the Boeing news release. SBSS can track objects in both low-Earth orbit and deep space.
"Averaging 12,000 deep-space observations per day, SBSS provides a major advantage to satellite operators who need to protect these valuable space assets that we depend on every day," said Craig Cooning, vice president of Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems.