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Environmental Impact Analysis Process. Environmental Review Starlab Site On Ascension Island

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Technical rept.

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The proposed action evaluated in this Environmental Review is to construct and operate a ground calibration site at Cotar Hill on Ascension Island, a dependency of the British Island of St. Helena. The ground calibration site would be used during a portion of the Starlab Program experiments that have been described in a previous Environmental Assessment USAF 1990. The purpose of these experiments is to advance the research program of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization SDIO, particularly that involving the acquisition, tracking, and pointing capabilities of electro-optical and laser systems. The proposed ground calibration experiments would use the green and red Starlab lasers on the Space Shuttle to locate and actively scan a site on Ascension Island. The experiments would demonstrate the tracking and pointing accuracy of the laser system prior to conducting other Starlab experiments. The most significant issue addressed in this Environmental Review is the potential exposure of people andor wildlife to laser beams. The USAF has prepared extensive analyses of potential laser effects, which provide critical input to the evaluation in this Environmental Review. Detailed safety analyses of the effects of laser systems conducted by the USAF and independent calculators done in preparing the Starlab Program USAF 1990 indicate that no significant impact to humans or wildlife would occur from exposure to lasers because the probability of people or wildlife seeing one pluse is so small and the duration of exposure would be so short 25 nanoseconds. Other issues that are discussed and evaluated here are the potential environmental impacts of constructing and operating the ground calibration site on land use, ecological resources, endangered and threatened species, and cultural resources. Special consideration is given to the effects of the site on a population of the rare plant Euphoria origanoids and a sooty tern rookery. 2 tables, 11 figures, 18 refs.7

Subject Categories:

  • Radiobiology
  • Lasers and Masers
  • Environmental Health and Safety

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