The project aims to develop a greater academic and public understanding of space monitoring and nuclear deterrence, which remain little known and poorly understood beyond specialist circles. A collaborative project with Arts & Humanities Research Council and Newcastle University, we have been immersed in the story of this intriguing and somewhat controversial place. The giant, geodesic domes sit on the edge of the North York Moors and were built in 1962 during the cold war, it is the UK’s ballistic missile early warning and space monitoring station, watching space for signs of missile activity, and also monitoring a swathe of northern hemispheric space.
It is vital for the maintenance of economic and social life around the world; RAF Fylingdales tracks the 1,700 operational military and civilian satellites in orbit, including those that enable technologies such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to function. It is part of the infrastructure that supports the International Space Station. It also monitors the 43,000 pieces of space debris which orbit earth.
This research aims to turn RAF Fylingdales inside out, making its practices and functions visible and demystifying its operations, aiming for greater public knowledge and understanding about the station and its functions. It will focus on the people and examine the daily workplace practices undertaken by the team employed at the site, from radar monitoring to grounds maintenance, as well as drawing on the station’s archive of documents, photographs and objects explaining the site and its history. The result will be an online archive documenting RAF Fylingdales.