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Project West Ford was a test carried out by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory on behalf of the United States Military in 1961 and 1963 to create an artificial ionosphere above the Earth. To facilitate global communication in the event the soviets sabotaged undersea cables, (the only means of reliable communication in the early 60’s) so a ring of 480,000,000 copper dipole antennas (1.78cm long needles) where placed in orbit to facilitate global radio communication. The needles were placed in medium Earth orbit between 3,500 and 3,800 kilometers with an inclination of 96 degrees. Sunlight pressure caused the dipoles to only remain in orbit for a short period of approximately three years. However fifty years later, some of the dipoles that did not deploy correctly still remain in clumps and these make up a small amount of orbital debris that is tracked by NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office. Forty six clumps are known to remain in orbit as of 2013.

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