66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
6/6/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Officials
here awarded a $914,699,474 contract to Lockheed Martin on June 2,
2014, to develop a system that will track objects in Earth's orbit with
far greater confidence and fidelity.
The contract brings the program to final system development with the
delivery of Space Fence Increment 1, or site 1, radar and a Space Fence
operations center. The projected initial operational capability is
fiscal 2019. The contract also includes an option for procuring a second
The system will track space objects in Earth's orbit. According to
program officials, it will improve space situational awareness by
detecting and tracking objects such as commercial and military
satellites and debris from break-up events. Coverage will extend down to
just above the horizon to handle low-inclination orbits.
"Previously, the Air Force could only track and identify items the size
of a basketball," said Dana Whalley, the Space Fence program manager,
who is stationed at Hanscom AFB, Mass. "With the new system, we'll be
able to identify items down to the size of a softball. This will
significantly increase our capability to provide predictive and
actionable space situational awareness for the nation."
Space Fence will provide the capability for dedicated uncued
surveillance of small objects in low-earth orbit with useful capability
in the higher orbit regimes. Uncued detection provides a continuous
"curtain" of radar pulses forming a "Fence" that enables detection,
tracking and determination of objects' orbits without prior knowledge of
their existence or location. This will allow for more timely
detections, higher cataloguing accuracy and completeness, and will
augment launch coverage and aid object characterization. Space Fence
will work in conjunction with the Joint Space Operations Center, or
JSpOC, to provide an integrated picture of the space operating
environment for the warfighter.
"The program will provide knowledge of objects, debris and events that
will help us to maintain U.S. and allied space capabilities, protect
space assets and prevent potential collisions in near-Earth orbit,"
Originally, three contracts were awarded in June 2009 for initial
prototyping and risk reduction of the Space Fence system. In the second
quarter of 2011, a second full and open competition was held for final
preliminary designs and prototyping. That contract was awarded to two
offerors: Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. As part of that, two preliminary
design reviews for the program were completed with final events
demonstrating working radar prototypes capable of detecting and tracking
a resident space object.
"This risk reduction acquisition approach was the best way to ensure the
technology was at the appropriate maturation level prior to entering
the EMD phase," said Whalley.
Space Fence is designed to provide assured coverage at low Earth orbit
for objects as small as 10 centimeters. The system will also support
cued searches and uncued surveillance at medium Earth orbit and above.
The increased Space Fence sensitivity, coupled with the increased
computing capabilities of the JSpOC Mission System, will yield a greater
understanding of the space operating environment and associated
"By providing a better picture of the space operating environment, Space
Fence will greatly improve the Air Force's ability to see and
understand that battlespace," said Whalley.