After much deliberation, the US Air Force has finally decided to move forward with Lockheed Martin’s innovative space debris surveillance system, otherwise known as the Space Fence. The billion-dollar project will see Lockheed create an S-band phased-array radar system on that will vastly improve the space debris detection capabilities of the US Air Force for the foreseeable future. The completed Space Fence project will be capable of automatically detecting baseball-sized objects as far as 1,900 kilometers away from the Earth’s surface. This will give the US Air Force a much greater understanding of the near space environment moving forward.
In order to approve of Lockheed’s plans for the Space Fence, the Air Force recently conducted an extensive 3-day demonstration and 8-day design review. This was an extremely in depth procedure, as Air Force officials had to review over 21,000 pages of Lockheed design schematics for the Space Fence facilities. At the end of testing, Air Force officials determined that plans for the large-scale digital radar facility were technically mature and met all program requirements.
As far as the construction of the Space Fence is concerned, Lockheed has already broken ground at the Kwajalein Island Air Force Base 3,400 kilometers south of Honolulu. The construction process will be rather difficult due to the remoteness of Kwajalein, as well as the cultural significance of the island. Lockheed intends to complete an advanced Space Fence prototype that will demonstrate 70% of the overall capability by February 2016 and 80% of the overall capability by 2018. The maximum intended capacity for the Kwajalein site is 80%, with the other 20% being supplemented by an additional Australian site. This additional Australian site will improve both the timeliness and accuracy of the Space Fence System.
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