Since February 2020 an interdisciplinary research team from Newcastle University funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have been examining archive material held at RAF Fylingdales as part of a significant research project. This project aims to turn RAF Fylingdales inside out, making its practices and functions visible and demystifying its operations in space monitoring and ballistic missile early warning.
The Royal Air Force, which operates this highly secure site, is acutely aware of the need for greater public knowledge and understanding about the station and its functions, and are project partners in the research along with English Heritage. In the absence of wider public understanding, fictions and fantasies about the station dominate – that it hosts nuclear weapons, for example, or that it has privileged insight into extra-terrestrial life-forms, or it is involved in monitoring our electronic communications (it doesn’t do any of these). The research team are motivated by a commitment to greater academic and public understanding of space monitoring and nuclear deterrence, which remain little known and poorly understood beyond specialist circles.
Fylingdales Archive, RCA Data Take Off, installation view, 25 February 1963. Crown Copyright.