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I recently accompanied two technicians to Meck Island where we performed maintenance on meteorological equipment, including a lightning detection sensor and anemometer. Meck is located about 20 miles north of Kwajalein Island (map). While no one lives there, dozens of support personnel (most working for Boeing) are ferried to the island on a daily basis. Meck is utilized by the US Department of Defense's Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program, the purpose of which is to develop and potentially deploy an efficient, effective system that detects, tracks and destroys incoming missiles before they enter our atmosphere. The program is in its development phase.

Test Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) boosters are occasionally launched from one of the silos located on Meck. Due to the sensitive nature of the facility, we were required to have an escort while entering certain areas. Thankfully, no classified equipment was visible in these areas and I was allowed to take pictures.

The Boeing Company, as the GMD prime contractor, has a very cool web site describing the program. Be sure to check out the photos and video section.

After a one-hour boat ride, we arrived on Meck at 7 AM and were greeted by this sign. Scientists can be so witty! We were escorted by a Boeing employee to the top of Launch Hill. Climbing to the top of Launch Hill. The broken anemometer is attached to the roof of the structure to the left. Mike and George, repairing the anemometer.
Mike and George, repairing the anemometer. View to the north. One of Meck's Super RADOTS - high magnification optics that track test boosters in flight. The anemometer is attached to the roof of this room, which contains electrical equipment. In the event of a booster explosion, the blast door would (hopefully) protect any workers inside.
Mike kneels in front of a break-out board, troubleshooting our equipment. We also performed routine maintenance on the lightning detection sensor located on the island. This decommissioned phased array radar was once used to track boosters. We believe this cluster of high-voltage equipment was once used in the transmitter of the phased array radar. Looks more like modern art to me!
Please keep hands and arms inside the cart at all times. Dry season Trade Winds were kicking up the surf. Winds atop Launch Hill were sustained at 25 knots (28.8 MPH) with gusts to 30 knots (34.5 MPH). Meck sports a number of beautiful beaches.
Meck sports a number of beautiful beaches. Meck sports a number of beautiful beaches. Transportation to the island is provided by a pair of catamarans. Transportation to the island is provided by a pair of catamarans.
Leaving Meck. We stopped off at Ebeye en route to Meck. Ebeye is located just a few miles north of Kwajalein and is home to more than 12,000 Marhsallese. Due to its very small size (about 0.8 square miles), Ebeye has a higher population density than Manhattan. Living conditions here are very poor. Marshallese children on Ebeye waved happily at us.
Big Buster, one of two small islands located between Ebeye and Kwajalein. We returned to Kwajalein harbor around 4 PM. Toot toot! Kwajalein Island Harbor Control.
     
 

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All photographs and content are Copyright 2002-2017 Kevin M. McGrath, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Please use only with permission.

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