The Air Force will base a Space Fence radar site on Kwajalein Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands with initial operations capability planned for fiscal 2017.
The Fence will provide a critical Space Surveillance Network capability needed to give warfighters the ability to maintain a full and accurate orbital catalog, ensure orbital safety and perform conjunction assessments.
Air Force Space Command will award a contract to build the radar, which will be capable of detecting, tracking, identifying and characterizing space objects in low and medium earth orbits. Construction is expected to begin September 2013 and is planned to take 48 months to complete construction and testing.
Until the final design is determined, it is unknown exactly how many personnel will be required to construct the radar site. After construction is complete and the radar is operational, approximately 10 to 15 contractor personnel are projected for the long-term work force at Kwajalein to maintain the Space Fence radar. A support agreement will be established between Air Force Space Command and the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site for site support and facilities maintenance. Contractor operations and maintenance support for the radar site will fall under the responsibility of the 21st Space Wing here.
The Space Fence is a radar system operating in the S-Band frequency range to perform uncued detection, tracking, and accurate measurement of orbiting objects in low earth – primary — and medium earth – secondary — orbital regimes.
The Space Fence will provide precise positional data on orbiting objects and will be the most accurate radar in the Space Surveillance Network. Space Fence data will be fed to the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Data from the Space Fence radar will be integrated with other Space Surveillance Network data to provide a comprehensive space situational awareness and integrated space picture.
The Space Fence will provide enhanced space surveillance capabilities to detect and track orbiting objects such as commercial and military satellites and space debris. The Fence will have greater sensitivity, allowing it to detect, track and measure an object the size of a softball orbiting more than 1,200 miles in space. Because it is an uncued tracking system, it will provide evidence of satellite break-ups, collisions or unexpected maneuvers of satellites.