Notice "detachment 3, 18th space surveillance squadron"
Isn't the "facility formerly known as Area 5" near the Nevada Test Range
called Air Force Flight Test Center, detachment 3
it's also interesting how many shuttle astronauts worked at that
Air Force Flight Test Center, detachment 3
Note I say ufo's not ETs.
USAF Sets Sights on Surveillance and Research with DoD's Largest Telescope
It took planning, ingenuity and money to get the new Advanced Electro-Optical System (AEOS) in place on Maui's 10,023-foot Haleakala, but well worth
it if you have your eyes on the stars-and anything else moving about in space.
The telescope will join seven other Air Force telescopes already on the volcanic mountain, but will be bigger and better than all of them, a
state-of-the-art telescope with a 3.67-meters-in-diameter mirror that is twice the size of any in operation on Haleakala, or bigger than any other
within the Department of Defense.
Once operational, the telescope will have two missions, according to Major Dave Simmons, commander, detachment 3, 18th Space Surveillance Squadron:
"Our current mission is tracking [known] man-made objects in deep space-everything from satellites to rocket bodies to space debris. Once
operational, the telescope will have situational awareness . . . answering such questions as What is this object? and What is its mission?"
The imaging of satellites is a big part of space situational awareness. Simmons said the Haleakala detachment (the other three are in New Mexico,
Spain, and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean) has "the only imaging telescope in the Department of Defense. It's what sets us apart. All other
detachments can do positional data, but we'll do imaging-and much, much better with the new telescope. We'll be able to distinguish better, with
The Maui detachment already holds the record for tracking man-made objects in deep space, reaching out to identify an object 260,000 kilometers
distant. AEOS will be able to image in the hours immediately around sunrise and sunset, to a distance of about 2,500 kilometers. The rest of the
night, AEOS can perform various kinds of situational awareness data collection, such as deep-space satellite "signatures."
The Haleakala site is above one-third of the earth's atmosphere, with clouds generally below at 5,000 to 7,000 feet, making for fine viewing
conditions. But the mountain's impressive height also called for some careful planning to put the new telescope in place. According to Major Dave
Richards of the Air Force Research Laboratory, which is building and testing the AEOS, the telescope's overall weight is 120 tons, and no crane was
available on Maui to lift the telescope into place, so a 300-ton crane was disassembled and shipped in pieces to Maui along with the telescope. The
300-tone crane was hauled up Haleakala and reassembled with the use of a 40-ton crane available on the island. Then the 300-ton crane was used to lift
the telescope into place.
The telescope's glass was manufactured by Schott, Germany, then sent to a firm in Pittsburgh to be ground, and to Kitt Peak, Arizona, to be
"coated" in a vacuum with aluminum, before finally being shipped on to Maui.
On Haleakala, the AOES's home will be in a 40,000-square-foot facility being built by the Army Corps of Engineers, Richards said. That facility is
twice as large as the one now housing the other seven Air Force telescopes, and, Richards said, it is hoped that six "experiment rooms" in the new
facility will be used by other tenants, civilian or military. One such room is in use by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. Another
room contains an adaptive optics system, including a mirror 19 inches in diameter, augmented with advanced sensors, that reads what is happening in
the atmosphere, helping to keep the AEOS in perfect focus.
Around October, 1999, the Air Force Space Command will take over the $155 million facility on Haleakala, continuing to lease the 4.5 to 5 acres from
the University of Hawaii, which holds 19 acres on the mountain.