DeTect, Inc. Helps Protect Discovery

There are thousands of factors that go into whether or not the Space Shuttle will be launched. One of those flying factors, you might night ever think about, but one Panama City company is.

You may not think a bird could have a huge impact on a giant aircraft like the Space Shuttle, but think again.

Ron Merritt, President of DeTect, Inc. said, "So what could it do, it could puncture a fuel tank, it could come through a windshield, it could rip components apart, so it’s important not to hit one. “

NASA says if a bird gets in the way of a shuttle launch the results could be disastrous, so the Panama City Company DeTect has created specialized radar to track the birds, the Merlin Avian Radar System.

"Building detection system that detect wildlife that interfere or have interaction with human activity such as aircraft activity, more recently wind turbulence. The radar makes sure the only thing flying around the launch pad is the space shuttle."

Commercial jets have crashed and people have died as result of birds impacting the engine or their components.

DeTect is looking at two different zones this space shuttle launch.

"We’re looking at a zone of bird activity right above the shuttle and to see whether or not there is a great deal of activity there."

All these factors play a huge role in deciding whether flight takes off is permitable.

"It’s costing the aviation industry over a billion dollars a year in damage just to hit birds in the airport."

While DeTect’s primary user is the Air Force, NASA has hopped on board, using the system to scan the region to see the bird activity. The people who put the system together say they re thrilled to have their system being used during the launch of Discovery.

"It was nice, were obviously stoked."

NASA isn’t the only one getting use out of the system. Conservationists also use the system to track birds.