C-Band (Holt) Radar: One year on
By Flying Officer Finian Kelly, 1RSU, 21st Space Wing
/ Published March 02, 2018
Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station near Exmouth, Western Australia -- No. 1 Remote Sensor Unit has marked a significant milestone for U.S. Air Force – tracking a tiny Australian Satellite known as Buccaneer in orbit.
It was Cpl. Matthew Tillbrook who was able to gain a signal lock on the satellite much to the delight of onlookers who applauded as they witnessed history from Royal Australian Air Force Base, Edinburgh.
The C-Band Space Surveillance Radar System, located at Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station near Exmouth, Western Australia, is a joint initiative between the United States and Australia. It has recently celebrated a one year anniversary since reaching Full Operational Capability.
It is the first dedicated southern hemisphere low-earth orbit sensor in the US Space Surveillance Network – a worldwide network of telescopes and radars that detect, track, identify and catalogue man-made objects in space.
”The Holt radar not only delivers capability from a situational awareness perspective, it bridges previous relationship gaps between operational users in niche capabilities on both sides of the Pacific, strengthening joint relationships between the two Air Forces, while allowing the transfer of new ideas and innovation between communities,” said Lt. Col. Julien Greening, Commanding Officer Number 1 Remote Sensor Unit, Wing Commander.
“41st Wing is well aware, as the operator of a U.S. asset, that this is an opportunity to build trust, while generating essential integrated Air and Space Defence capability for Australia.”
Information generated by the Space Surveillance Network is used by agencies all over the world to contribute to space-flight safety, and to ensure satellites are not endangered by space debris.
“I am proud of the radar’s contributions to space launch detection and orbital observations in the southern and eastern hemispheres during the past year,” said Col. Devin Pepper, 21st Operations Group Commander. “The 21st Space Wing’s successful partnership with our Australian allies has increased situational awareness of the space domain and has established a solid foundation for operating future coalition space systems.”
It is estimated that more than 40,000 space object tracking events have been conducted in the radar’s first full year of operations, including one of the newest objects to enter Earth’s orbit, Buccaneer.