by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
12/21/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The
Air Force Life Cycle Management Center here recently put out a request
for proposal to move the Space Fence program forward.
Space Fence will be a system of up to two land-based radars, the first
site located at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, to track
objects entering Earth's orbit. According to program officials, it will
form the foundation of improved space situational awareness by expanding
the ability to detect, track, identify and characterize orbiting
objects such as commercial and military satellites, smaller objects,
maneuvering satellites, break-up events and lower inclination objects.
"Space situational awareness is a continual concern and challenge for
U.S. and ally nations," said Ken Francois, Space Fence program manager.
"The Space Fence program will increase the capability to provide
predictability in reducing the chance of a collision or attack."
The RFP is for the final development and construction of the Space Fence
Operations Center, Site 1, and an option for Site 2. It is a full and
open competition that will conclude with a contract award, currently
anticipated in spring 2013. The award will bring the program forward to
final system development, fielding and initial operational capability.
During a Defense Acquisition Board held in August, some changes were made to the program's acquisition strategy.
"The most significant change is that we are moving to an incremental
approach. Increment 1 includes the Space Operations Center and Site 1
facilities construction and radar build," said Francois. "Increment 2
includes Site 2 and system integration. This approach maximizes our
efficient use of resources and will allow us to reduce costs to the
Defense Department and the Air Force, ultimately saving money for the
A lot of previous work got the program to this point.
In early 2011, awards were made to Lockheed Martin and Raytheon for an
18-month period of performance to develop preliminary system designs and
prototypes and conduct radar performance analyses, evaluations and
other technical activities.
As part of that, two preliminary design reviews for the Space Fence
program were completed with final events demonstrating working radar
prototypes capable of detecting and tracking a resident space object.
"The PDRs were conducted through a series of four detailed incremental
reviews, leading up to the two-day final events," said Francois. "This
approach was used so the government could review various aspects of the
designs over time and provide timely feedback on any issues."
The incremental reviews included overall system design and architecture,
radar hardware and software configuration items, allocated baseline,
logistics, facilities, test, modeling and simulation along with the
radar prototype demonstration. Following the reviews, the contractors
worked on risk reduction activities and design maturation.
"All the work up to now and as we go forward is so we can ensure the
mature technologies that are needed are available and to reduce risks
associated with the program," said Francois.
Initial operational capability for Space Fence is anticipated in 2017 and full operational capability in 2020.