The US Air Force is spending nearly $1 billion to build a radar installation in the Pacific that will help keep astronauts and satellites safe by tracking pieces of space junk as small as a baseball. That is, if global warming doesn’t get in the way. The so-called Space Fence is being constructed on a iny atoll in the Marshall Islands that scientists say could be regularly swamped by rising seas within a couple of decades. The scientists say the salt water could play havoc with the equipment.
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And The Associated Press found that neither the military nor its contractor, Lockheed Martin, gave serious consideration to that threat.
Dana Whalley, a civilian who is managing the Space Fence program, says that the radar installation has a projected lifespan of 25 years and that he doesn’t expect the sea to rise enough over that period to cause a problem. And if it does, he says, the base could take steps to improve its seawalls.
Still, because of budget pressures, military equipment is often used well beyond its projected lifespan.