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USSTRATCOM Chooses California-Based University to Support Debris Tracking

Jeff Brody

U.S. Strategic Command has selected California Polytechnic State University to support a global effort to track in-orbit objects via satellites. Cal Poly said Tuesday that it holds 20 years of helping Vandenberg Air Force Base pack and launch CubeSats for the tracking of in-orbit debris.

Government officials are concerned with the growing amount of space debris and inactive, floating spacecraft in Earth orbit.

“We share a lot of data back and forth with the 18th Space Control Squadron,” said Ryan Nugent, an aerospace engineer at Cal Poly.

He said the squadron would send information on collisions that may involve Poly Cal's satellites. The university then uses this input to reduce chances of these collisions. Cal Poly students also transmit GPS-based information that Vandenberg operators save for tracking purposes.

Debris-tracking information supports launch safety, satellite maneuver planning, electromagnetic interference investigations, collision assessments and other space management activities.

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