An Out-of-This-World Feeling

Air Force awards Lockheed Martin approximately $914 million contract to provide Space Fence radar system

 

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Debris from space collisions. Spent rocket stages. Dead satellites. Numbered in the tens of thousands, these and other fast-moving “space junk” orbiting the earth can be lethal to spacecraft and satellites in their path.

These threats will be combatted by the U.S. Air Force’s Space Fence program, which today was awarded to Lockheed Martin under a five-year $914.7 million contract to build an advanced ground-based radar system on the Kwajalein Atoll to improve the way we identify and track objects in space. Utilizing a powerful, new ground-based radar, Space Fence will enhance the way the U.S. detects, tracks, measures and catalogs orbiting objects and space debris with improved accuracy, better timeliness and increased surveillance coverage.

Air Force approves $915 million contract to combat space junk

Lockheed Martin has a contract with the Air Force to build a so-called "space fence" to track debris that pose a threat to satellites and space travel. Chip Reid shows how the program could stop a disaster. Video courtesy of CBS This Morning.

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Lockheed Martin will deliver up to two advanced S-band phased array radars for the Space Fence program. The Space Fence radar system will greatly improve Space Situational Awareness of the existing Space Surveillance Network.

“Space-based technologies enable daily conveniences such as weather forecasting, banking, global communications and GPS navigation, yet everyday these critical services are being threatened by hundreds of thousands of objects orbiting Earth,” said Dale Bennett, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “Space Fence will locate and track these objects with more precision than ever before to help the Air Force transform space situational awareness from being reactive to predictive.”

The system’s design incorporates a scalable, solid-state S-band radar with a higher wavelength frequency capable of detecting much smaller objects than the Air Force’s current system. This improves accuracy, quickens response time and expands surveillance coverage. 

Space Fence: Watching Over Us

We rely heavily on space for navigation, communication, and even health care research. Through Space Fence, the U.S. Air Force is significantly improving its space situational awareness to protect our satellites and astronauts from spinning debris and other orbital objects before disaster strikes

Construction of the new Space Fence system on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands is slated to begin in the fall of 2014 to meet the program’s 2018 initial operational capability goal.

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, AMEC and AT&T–has decades of collective experience in space-related programs, including sensors, mission processing, cataloging, orbital mechanics, net-centric communications and facilities.

June 2, 2014

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