Lockheed Martin submitted its proposal today for the next phase of Space Fence, a program that will revamp the way the U.S. Air Force identifies and tracks objects in space.
Space Fence will use S-band ground-based radars to provide the Air Force with uncued detection, tracking and accurate measurement of space objects, primarily in low-earth orbit. The geographic separation and the higher wave frequency of the new Space Fence radars will allow for the detection of much smaller microsatellites and debris than current systems. Additionally, Lockheed Martins Space Fence design will significantly improve the timeliness with which operators can detect space events which could present potential threats to GPS satellites or the International Space Station.
The 2009 collision of an operational communications satellite with a defunct satellite illustrates the real risk space debris poses to both our manned and unmanned space missions, said John Morse, director of Lockheed Martins Space Fence program. Space situational awareness is a national security priority and Space Fence will greatly enhance our ability to track and catalog orbiting objects which number in the tens of thousands.
For this next phase of the Space Fence program, the Air Force will award up to two preliminary design review contracts worth up to a total of $214 million. During the 18-month period of performance, selected contractors will develop preliminary system designs, radar performance analyses, evaluations and prototypes, and conduct other technical activities. After completion of this phase in 2012, a separate production contract award is expected to lead to final system development, fielding and full operational capability.
Space Fence will replace the existing Air Force Space Surveillance System, or VHF Fence, which has been in service since the early 1960s. The new systems initial operational capability is scheduled for 2015. The contract is valued at more than $3.5 billion.
With more than 400 operational S-band arrays deployed worldwide, Lockheed Martin is a leader in S-band radar development, production, operation and sustainment. The Lockheed Martin-led team, which includes General Dynamics, AT&T and AMEC, has decades of collective experience in space-related programs including sensors, mission-processing, cataloging, orbital mechanics, net-centric communications and facilities.
Explore further: Soyuz spacecraft docks with International Space Station