Space Fence

Lockheed Martin’s Space Fence Program on Track to Start Tracking Space Junk


Since the 1960s, the U.S. Air Force has relied on the Space Surveillance Network to track orbiting objects. In the 1970s, NASA scientist Donald Kessler, envisioned a scenario – aptly named Kessler Syndrome – where cascading orbital collisions would create increasing debris fields, eventually destroying our assets in space.

As the years have advanced, so has the quantity of space debris, though our ability to reliably track and record it has not. Enter Lockheed Martin’s Space Fence. It’s not a fence in the literal sense. Space Fence is a highly advanced, ground-based radar networked with existing systems to detect far more debris, and with greater accuracy.

A piece of space garbage the size of a marble could disable a satellite – the same satellites that guide us to a new restaurant location, allow us to access our banking and financial accounts and surf the internet to check the latest weather forecast. These satellites also protect complex systems that safeguard our way of life.

“With more than 60 nations operating in space today, the final frontier is far more complex than when space exploration and use started,” explains Steve Bruce, Lockheed Martin vice president of Advanced Systems. “With hundreds of thousands of objects in earth orbit, space debris and the associated risk of potential collisions threaten space-based assets and critical systems that merit protection.”

Aegis Common Source Library

Baseline 9 is part of the Aegis Common Source Library, which enables software reuse and commonality across all modernized and new Aegis systems. Software updates can be developed and quickly released across the fleet in an efficient “build once, field many times” process.

“The Aegis Common Source Library meets two basic customer needs: rapid technology deployment and cost savings,” said Jim Sheridan, Lockheed Martin director of Aegis programs. “Aegis, through the Baseline 9 modernization, is providing the U.S. Navy state-of-the-art technology to pace the threat at a fraction of the cost of unique baselines.”

“The modernization is testimony to the durability and flexibility of both the Arleigh Burke class ships and the Aegis Combat System’s design,” said Jim Sheridan, Lockheed Martin director of Aegis programs. “When sailors take the Arleigh Burke back to sea, they won’t be using combat systems from the 1990s – they’ll use the same, advanced and evolving systems available to sailors on the John Finn.”

USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) will return to the fleet and complete her missions with a sharper degree of efficiency, tenacity and success. Her homeport is Norfolk.

The pre-commissioning unit John Finn (DDG 113) is expected to begin after sea trials in the spring and, after commissioning, will join the proud tradition of the 63 Arleigh Burke class destroyers. Her homeport will be San Diego, California.