Lockheed Martin's prototype Space Fence radar system (Photo: Lockheed Martin)
The PAVE PAWS phased-array radar (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)
Part of the AFSSS VHF orbital space radar system (Photo: USAF)
An illustration depicting the amount of debris currently orbiting the earth (Image: NASA)
In response to the rapidly increasing danger from space debris, a new system called the "Space Fence" has been under development. It would replace the 50-year-old Air Force Space Surveillance System (AFSSS) with a system of highly-sensitive phased array S-band tracking radars. Prototype "Space Fence" systems able to detect and track objects ten times smaller than those that can be detected by the AFSSS have been demonstrated by Raytheon and by Lockheed Martin. The USAF will now choose between construction and installation proposals submitted from both companies for building the new US$3.3 billion (est.) Space Fence, to be operational by 2017.
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