The U.S. Air Force could award a multi-billion dollar contract in April to build a new radar system for tracking objects in space, Space News reported Dec. 27.
Mike Gruss writes the Air Force has spent close to $1.3 billion on the Space Fence program since 2006.
Lockheed Martin and Raytheon both received bridge contracts in December 2013 to demonstrate their prototypes for Space Fence and will conduct their studies over the next five-and-a-half months, according to Gruss’ report.
Space News reports the Air Force asked the companies to demonstrate how their systems could focus on different types of events and orbits, as well as how the prototypes could build up a catalog of objects in Earth’s orbit.
“With more than 60 nations operating in space today, the final frontier is far more complex than when current systems started tracking a few hundred objects in the early 1960’s, ” Casper told ExecutiveBiz.
“With hundreds of thousands of objects in earth orbit, space debris and the associated risk of potential collisions threaten space-based assets and critical systems that merit protection.”
Scott Spence, Raytheon’s Space Fence program director, adds that “there are an estimated 200, 000 pieces of space debris orbiting our planet at speeds of 17, 000 mph, ” according to an OnOrbitWatch article.
“A piece of debris as small as a golf ball could destroy one of those satellites we depend on, and if it hit a manned spacecraft or the space station, the results could be catastrophic, ” Spence said.