Lockheed wants to build a Space Fence

Lockheed Martin recently submitted a detailed proposal for the development of a sophisticated “Space Fence.”

Once completed, the virtual “fence” is expected to help the US Air Force revamp its current system of identifying and tracking objects in space.

“[The] Fence will use S-band ground-based radars to provide the [military] with uncued detection, tracking and accurate measurement of space objects – primarily in low-earth orbit,” explained LM exec John Morse.

”The geographic separation and the higher wave frequency of the new Space Fence radars will allow for the detection of much smaller microsatellites and debris than current systems.”

According to Morse, Lockheed’s design will significantly improve detection time of objects posing a potential threat to GPS satellites or the International Space Station (ISS).

“The 2009 collision of an operational communications satellite with a defunct satellite illustrates the real risk space debris poses to both our manned and unmanned space missions,” he said.

“Space situational awareness is a national security priority and Space Fence will greatly enhance our ability to track and catalog orbiting objects which number in the tens of thousands.”

The Space Fence is slated to replace the existing Air Force Space Surveillance System – or VHF Fence – which has been in service since the early 1960s. The new system’s initial operational capability is scheduled for 2015, with the lucrative contract (or price tag) valued at more than $3.5 billion.

Note: For the next phase of the Space Fence program, the Air Force will award up to two preliminary design review contracts worth an approximate total of $214 million.

During the 18-month period of performance, selected contractors will develop preliminary system designs, radar performance analyses, evaluations and prototypes.

After completion of this phase in 2012, a separate production contract award is expected to lead to final system development, fielding and full operational capability.