HomeNewsArticle Display

Buckley's mysterious "golf balls" uncovered

The radomes, lightly referred to as “golf balls,” on Buckley Air Force Base house and protect satellite dishes and other crucial space operations equipment. The purpose of the giant spheres is to protect the equipment from Colorado’s ever-changing weather. Without this protective shell around the satellite dishes, the Airmen could not properly complete their jobs in all weather situations and circumstances. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Emily E. Amyotte/Released)

The radomes, lightly referred to as “golf balls,” on Buckley Air Force Base house and protect satellite dishes and other crucial space operations equipment. The purpose of the giant spheres is to protect the equipment from Colorado’s ever-changing weather. Without this protective shell around the satellite dishes, the Airmen could not properly complete their jobs in all weather situations and circumstances. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Emily E. Amyotte/Released)

The radomes, lightly referred to as “golf balls,” on Buckley Air Force Base house and protect satellite dishes and other crucial space operations equipment. The purpose of the giant spheres is to protect the equipment from Colorado’s ever-changing weather. Without this protective shell around the satellite dishes, the Airmen could not properly complete their jobs in all weather situations and circumstances. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Emily E. Amyotte/Released)

The radomes, lightly referred to as “golf balls,” on Buckley Air Force Base house and protect satellite dishes and other crucial space operations equipment. The purpose of the giant spheres is to protect the equipment from Colorado’s ever-changing weather. Without this protective shell around the satellite dishes, the Airmen could not properly complete their jobs in all weather situations and circumstances. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Emily E. Amyotte/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Many people know Buckley Air Force Base as the home of missile warning. However, some may only recognize the large "golf balls" clustered across the horizon. Some say that hidden within the giant spheres are top-secret spy missions taking place or scenes you might see from a science fiction movie -- maybe even alien spacecraft.

But that's not the case. Those "golf balls" play a vital role in Buckley's mission. They are radomes that house satellite dishes and other crucial space equipment.

The purpose of the giant spheres is to protect the equipment from Colorado's always-changing weather. Without this protective shell around the satellite dishes, the Airmen could not properly complete their jobs in all weather situations and circumstances.

"Their primary purpose is to protect the antennas from weather," said Senior Airman Matthew, 460th Space Communication Squadron satellite readout station crew chief. "Before we had the radomes, we had to have a de-icer on the antenna dish so it would melt it down."

Senior Airman Ryan, 460th Space Communication Squadron radio frequency transmission journeyman, agreed that the radomes are vital to Buckley's mission because of the protection they give to the equipment.

"The radomes protect the satellite antennas from harsh weather conditions such as snow, rain and high winds," Ryan said. "Since we have some antennas on Buckley Air Force Base that have been in use since 1973 and the weather in Colorado is always changing, the radomes play a key role in our mission as maintainers and for missile guides and warning systems mission success."

The larger radomes are made up of more than 800 tiles that weigh hundreds of pounds. Each tile is made of a composite material and frame that can withstand hurricane force winds of more than 90 miles per hour.

"Not all radomes are the same or made of the same materials," Ryan said. "But they play a key role in the survivability and longevity of the antennas and mission success."

The radomes on Buckley house satellite network tracking and intelligence equipment. There are more many Team Buckley members who work directly with these giant spheres; but all of Team Buckley, the community and allies worldwide rely on what's inside to ensure global security.

The dishes inside of the radomes communicate with satellites orbiting the earth and collect data for four national security mission areas: missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battle space awareness.

The incoming data is then gathered and processed by the Aerospace Data Facility-Colorado and the 2nd Space Warning Squadron. This data can then be reported up to crucial agencies who need it.

These types of domes can be seen in many different locations other than Buckley. They come in varying sizes and materials, all used to shelter radars, communications systems, antennas and other equipment from harsh environments.

The radomes on Buckley Air Force Base, although not in a science fiction movie, make space communication possible. It is thanks to these "golf balls" that protect the valuable equipment within, that Buckley's mission remains a 24/7/365 operation.
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.