Raytheon and Lockheed Martin were awarded contracts to provide designs for a ground-based space radar system called the space fence which will be able to better detect orbiting objects (to include space debris) passing over the United States. All the nine of the transmit and receive sites are located along the 33rd parallel in the continental United States.
The contract will be for 18 months. When it’s completed, the Air Force will be expected to award a separate $3.5 billion contract to build the Space Fence. So far, $20 million of a potential $107 million has been obligated.
The new space fence project will be a major upgrade to the existing VHF-based Space Fence which was called the Navy Fence until it was handed off to the Air Force in 2004. As the new space fence will operate in the s-band, it will be able to detect smaller objects and provide more precise positioning information.
The new space fence will have three ground-based S-band transmitter sites designed to automatically detect, track, and measure space objects. Six receiver sites will monitor the reflected radar returns. Object in the new fence’s field-of-view will include the low and medium earth orbits.
It is expected to be IOC in 2014 and fully operational in 2015.