Since humans began exploring space in the 1950s, almost 18,000 “unnatural” objects have been put into orbit around the Earth. These include everything from Sputnik to Elon Musk's red Tesla Roadster. In addition to these objects, it is estimated that millions of bits of debris (smaller than 10cm across) are also floating around our planet. HANDS was designed to track these objects and debris and to ensure the safety of new launches and satellites, and that of the International Space Station as well.
Named, 'High Accuracy Network Determination System' (HANDS), the system is a global network of autonomous telescopes that accurately track space based objects by fusing observations from monitoring sites around the world. Think air traffic control for space. Initial HANDS funding came via the SBIR program for the Department of Defense's Air Force Research Lab (AFRL). AFRL sought new approaches to space situational awareness and, after reviewing Oceanit's proposal, selected Oceanit to develop the system. A successful SBIR phase I, lead to phase II, and III programs. HANDS went on to become a fully autonomous, operational, and secured system for the Air Force.