||Space Fence surveillance radar site declared operational
by Sandra Erwin — March 28, 2020
An aerial view of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Fence on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Credit: Lockheed Martin
The $1.5 billion Space Fence can track tiny objects in low Earth orbit as small as a marble.
WASHINGTON — The space surveillance radar site known as the Space Fence is ready for use after five years in construction, the U.S. Space Force announced March 27.
The $1.5 billion Space Fence — located on Kwajalein Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands — is a ground-based radar system that tracks satellites and space debris primarily in low Earth orbit. Lockheed Martin was selected as the prime contractor in 2014.
The Space Fence can track tiny objects as small as a marble. It also provides a search capability for objects at higher orbits. Data from the Space Fence will feed into the military’s Space Surveillance Network.
The Space Surveillance Network tracks about 26,000 objects. The addition of the Space Fence will increase the catalog size significantly over time, the Space Force said in a news release.
The Space Fence is operated by the 20th Space Control Squadron based in Huntsville, Alabama. The squadron provides data to the 18th Space Control Squadron located at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, the unit responsible for maintaining the space object catalog.
“Space Fence is revolutionizing the way we view space by providing timely, precise orbital data on objects that threaten both manned and unmanned military and commercial space assets,” said Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond.
The solid-state S-band radar will detect closely spaced objects, breakups, maneuvers, launches, conjunction assessments and depleted rocket boosters.