GOVERNMENT ministers visited RAF Fylingdales on Monday to discuss how the base can be utilised to protect the UK from attacks from space.
The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, and Peter Luff MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, visited the base to discuss drafting a National Space Security Policy.
The policy will address all aspects of the UK’s dependence on space, both military and civil, and during their visit the ministers were shown how RAF Fylingdales is primarily used for ballistic missile warnings, but also has a secondary role of space surveillance.
Mr Luff said: “RAF Fylingdales is an important part of the North Yorkshire community and is also a vital component of our national security, helping to provide an uninterrupted ballistic missile warning and space surveillance service to both the UK and the US.
“This visit will be of great assistance to us as we work towards a National Space Security Policy, which will consider the challenges and opportunities for both civil and military uses of space, an area of growing importance for the UK.”
Accompanying the ministers were members of the National Space Security Policy Team and of the Cabinet office, and they were hosted by station commander Rayna Owens.
Wing Commander Owens said: “We were honoured to host such an important visit, key to the National Space Security Policy and the future.”
In addition to briefing on RAF Fylingdales operations, the visitors toured the Solid State Phased-Array Radar (SSPAR), the Operations Room and made the most of the good weather by viewing the site from the top of the radar building.
The RAF base has had a busy week, as it is currently monitoring the flight of a failed Russian probe, named Phobos-Grunt, which was intended to explore Mars, but instead failed to escape Earth’s orbit and is expected to crash back to Earth on Sunday.
The majority of the probe is expected to burn up as it re-enters the atmosphere, but up to 30 pieces of debris, collectively weighing around 200kg, could land anywhere across the British Isles or northern Europe.
It’s final journey will be tracked from RAF Fylingdales, although they will only be able to predict its landing spot with an uncertainty of 4,000km.