Lockheed Martin is revamping the way the U.S. Air Force identifies and tracks objects in space.
HOW TO KEEP SPACE SAFE
Construction is underway on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands to build Space Fence, a sophisticated system that will dramatically improve the way the U.S. Air Force identifies and tracks objects in space. The new system’s initial operational capability is scheduled for 2018.
With critical design review completed, the Space Fence team is focused on production of technology that will bring the system online. Space Fence will use Gallium Nitride (GaN) powered 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. Lockheed Martin engineers and U.S. Air Force personnel are testing and training on a scaled-down version of the system in Moorestown NJ known as the Integration test Bed. The ITB provides the operational context to wring out remaining risk for end-item hardware and software prior to installation in the new Space Fence facility on Kwajalein.
The locations and higher wave frequency of the new Space Fence radars will permit the detection of much smaller microsatellites and debris than current systems. Additionally, Lockheed Martin’s 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 flexibility and sensitivity of the system will provide coverage of deep space geosynchronous orbits while maintaining the surveillance fence.
Lockheed Martin looks forward to supporting the Air Force on the first Space Fence, as well as the future second site planned to go online in 2021.
Popular Mechanics, Apr 6, 2016
Space News, Mar 29, 2016
IHS Jane's 360, Mar 30, 2016