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Wed, Feb 09, 2011

U.S. Air Force Awards $107 Million Space Fence Radar Contract

Lockheed Martin Gets The Follow-On Work On The Program

The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $107 million follow-on contract for the next phase of Space Fence, a program that will increase space situational awareness and enhance safety for both manned and unmanned space operations, to Lockheed Martin. Under the 18-month contract, Lockheed Martin will further develop and prototype its ground-based radar system design in preparation for a final Space Fence production contract next year.

Space Fence will replace the existing Air Force Space Surveillance System, or VHF Fence, which has been in service since the early 1960s. The higher wave frequency of the new Space Fence radars will allow for the detection of much smaller microsatellites and debris than the current systems allow. 

"The proliferation of orbital objects, including rocket debris and satellites, threatens our daily use of space-based technology and its valuable services, such as electronic navigation, satellite broadcasting and medical research," said John Morse, Lockheed Martin Space Fence program director.  "Our Space Fence design will provide the Air Force with more time to react to events potentially impacting our space assets and missions – such as collisions with space debris – before they happen."

Space Fence will field two or three high-power, S-band ground-based radars to provide the Air Force with uncued detection, tracking, accurate measurement and cataloging of resident space objects, primarily in low-earth orbit.

The current VHF system is located in the continental U.S., whereas the Space Fence radars will be located at strategic sites around the world to expand global surveillance coverage into the Southern hemisphere.

In June 2009, Lockheed Martin was one of three industry teams awarded a $30 million contract to begin concept development for Space Fence.  During the recent system design review phase, the team reduced risks for its solution by prototyping, designing and performing trade studies and analysis of potential system configurations. The team also conducted site and facility studies and developed net-centric approaches to integrate the new Space Fence with the existing architecture of the Space Surveillance Network.

FMI: www.af.mil, www.lockheedmartin.com

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