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Cape Cod Space Force station tracking satellites, space debris

Cape Cod Air Force Station officially renamed Cape Cod Space Force Station during a ceremony on June 11, 2021.
Photo by Timothy Sandland
Courtesy DVIDS
The Cape Cod Air Force Station was renamed the Cape Cod Space Force Station in 2021.

Two years ago, Joint Base Cape Cod's Air Force Station was renamed the Cape Cod Space Force Station.

The station’s primary mission is its missile warning system, but it also focuses on tracking satellites and space debris.

Lt. Col Stewart Smith is Commanding Officer for the 6th Space Warning Squadron.

He spoke as part of the Joint Base Cape Cod Oversight Group at this week’s Mashpee Select Board meeting.

Smith said the data his team gathers goes to other squadrons that almost serve as air traffic control — but for space.

“They can compute all that and determine, ‘Hey what’s the likelihood of something crashing into someone else? Do we need to notify a satellite owner or operator? Hey, you might want to consider a maneuver to get out of the way.' Things like that.”

Smith said there’s a lot to monitor with more private companies getting into space.

He said the data his team collects may be used to protect satellites in orbit.

“For many, many years, to talk about conflict in space was taboo. It really isn’t anymore because of the possibility that it could happen, or at least our need to be ready to prevent it.”

The Space Force Station is located on the northern part of Joint Base Cape Cod.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.