Space Force: we need a ‘highway patrol’ around the moon
April 4, 2022

America’s youngest military branch, the Space Force, may also be the most ambitious as it it pushes to roll out the Cislunar Highway Patrol System – yes, “CHPS”, like the show.

The purpose of the cislunar highway patrol would be to identify, categorize, and track manmade objects in orbit between Earth and the moon. Currently, there are over 23,000 of these objects cataloged in orbit around the Earth. Artificial objects orbiting the moon however, are not as closely accounted for.

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate has provided $7.5 million in funding to University of Arizona professor Roberto Furfaro and Dr. Vishnu Reddy to begin working towards mitigating a “lunar traffic jam.”

Dr. Reddy spoke to the magnitude of the issue: “The space debris problem is a mess. We’ve gone for 60-plus years of uncontrollably trashing everything in space, right? Imagine we had taken every car since the invention of the Model T, and every time the thing runs out of gas, you leave it to the side of the freeway and pick up a new car, wherever you drop it. That’s what we’ve been doing to space.”

University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins said, “The University of Arizona has been a world leader in space exploration for decades, and our scientists were instrumental in mapping the surface of the moon for NASA’s Apollo 11 mission in 1969. We are now building upon this legacy to better understand and proactively address possible traffic congestion between Earth and the moon.”


Unlike the 70’s sit-com, the Cislunar Highway Patrol System will not deploy uniformed officers to patrol the cislunar highway. Instead, a unique spacecraft will act an as an orbital radar which can detect, categorize, and track man made debris in a lunar orbit.

Michael Lopez, the CHPS program manager, said that the system “will deliver space domain awareness, in a region that is one thousand times greater than our current area of responsibility.” CHPS will have a range of over 385,000km compared to the current scope of the cislunar highway of only 36,000km.

The Space Force intends to launch the Cislunar Highway Patrol System in 2025.

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