Lockheed Martin moves forward with Space Fence program

By Ryan Maass   |   Sept. 28, 2015 at 10:43 AM

MOORESTOWN, N.J., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. government officials approved Lockheed Martin's design for their Space Fence system, which includes a large-scale digital radar and a turn-key facility, the company announced today.

The Space Fence is a next-generation space surveillance system being built by the U.S. Air Force. Its purpose is to monitor both artificial satellites and space debris that orbit Earth. The plans were based on an earlier system called the Air Force Space Surveillance System, but those plans were abandoned in 2013. Space Flight Now reported Lockheed Martin won a $915 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to build the "fence" in July 2014.

The project aims to allow the U.S. military to monitor tens times more "space junk" than it can currently with aging technology, meaning it will be able to catalog orbital objects more than 1.5 million times a day, and be able to predict space-based collisions.

Assessment of the Space Fence was conducted by the U.S. Air Force through the program's Critical Design Review. This three day process followed the delivery of 21,000 pages of design documents, and an eight-day Design Walkthrough. Steve Bruce, vice president for Advanced Systems at Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training business, is optimistic about the program's success.

"Completion of CDR marks the end of the design phase and the start of radar production and facility construction of the Space Fence system," says Bruce, "Once complete, Space Fence will deliver revolutionary capability to the U.S. Air Force with a flexible system capable of adapting to future missions requiring new tracking and coverage approaches."

Construction of what will be the largest digital phased radar has begun on Kwajalein Island.

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