Home > Technology > Military

The US Air Force is building a radar 'space fence'

The US Air Force is building a radar 'space fence' Science & Technology World Website


The US Air Force is working on a 'space fence' to protect spacecraft from orbiting junk.

It plans to activate it in just under two years to replace a similar system that was shut down in 2013.

While the military has dubbed the system a 'fence', it is in fact a radar system that sends signal into space to track objects the size of a tennis ball.

The space fence is due to become operational from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in 2018.

This time however, the fence will operate in frequencies 1,000 times higher than its predecessor, making it more precise and able to find small objects.

According to Lockheed Martin, it will be able to detect targets as small as four inches in diameter, compared to the 30 inch limit of the 2013 array.

It will use ground-based radars to provide the Air Force with uncued detection, tracking and measurement of space objects, mainly in low-earth orbit.

There are estimated to be more than 20,000 items of space junk currently trapped in Earth's orbit.

This includes old engine parts, dead satellites and other floating junk generated by space missions or from collisions in space.

'The new space fence will have much greater sensitivity, allowing it to detect and track and measure an object the size of a softball, orbiting more than 1,200 miles in space,' Captain Nicholas Mercurio, the director of public affairs at Vandenberg Air Force base in California told Fox News.

'So one of the big reasons why the military is investing in the new space fence is to track those objects.'

The space fence will be made up of something known as a 'S-band phased-array radar' which will have tens of thousands of transmitters and hundreds of thousands of receivers.

A radar beam will trigger an alert when an object flies through it. A computer will then characterise the object and calculate its trajectory.

If the item matches one already in the catalog, its record is updated. But a new object is tracked until its orbit can be confirmed.

The receiver will measure roughly 7,000 square feet.

As well as tracking space debris, it could also be used as a deterrent to keep US assets in space safe from enemy attacks.

Expects have raised concerns over the development of cube satellites, which are shoe-sized boxed small objects that could launch attacks on larger satellites.

Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force are currently testing and training a scaled-down version of the system in Moorestown, New Jersey, known as the Integration Test Bed (ITB).

The ITB will allow the team a chance to prepare the hardware and software before to installation at the Space Fence facility on Kwajalein.



ICP:09019593 Network Management No:20110200020

Operation license of appreciation telecom service:B-2-4-20100139

Science & Technology World Website has all rights Copyright @ 2010-2016 by www.twwtn.com. all rights reserved