Space radar in full operation in the Basin - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Space radar in full operation in the Basin

(Source: KWES) (Source: KWES)
(Source: KWES) (Source: KWES)
(KWES) -

Midland is going out of this world with an operating space radar in the Basin. It's a new addition to the City of Midland's space industry. They call it The Midland Space Radar.

"When you're working with a pen and paper to design something like this, it's easy to forget how difficult it is to make it happen in real life," said LeoLabs Co-Founder & Chief Technical Officer, Michael Nicolls.

Leo Labs, the company behind the radar, began construction in October and finished the facility in February when it became fully operational. The site is located about 80 miles west of the city. 

"When we went out there looking for our next radar site, Midland had already been working in the space industry," said LeoLabs CEO Dan Ceperley. "It was really important to be plugged in with a team like that."

The site is in a remote area so it doesn't get too much human interference. The radar can track 10,000 satellites and space debris in an hour. It also tracks the International Space Station.

"It's a service that's critical for the industry and there's no company doing it so we're the first to market with this debris tracking data and this satellite tracking data," said Ceperley.

But how exactly does it work? First, the radar emits radio waves into space using its reflectors. The waves bounce off debris and low-earth orbit satellites. These are the satellites that provide services for things like digital maps, internet access, or cell phone use. Once the waves bounce off the debris and satellites, the radar collects the data, and that data is used to calculate if the debris will collide with the satellite. 

"Objects like this can completely destroy your satellite or put it out of commission," said Nicolls.

The company hopes to branch out to having more radar sites around the globe. But for now, Midland will be on their radar.

"It's critical we protect those satellites and also our low-earth orbit environment, keep it free of debris," said Ceperley. "Midland is always going to be a foundational piece of that, we thank the City of Midland and the Midland Development Corporation."

The Midland Development Corporation approved the $60,000 promotional agreement back in September and its over a five year term. To keep up with LeoLabs, you can visit their website here.

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