Lockheed Martin and Raytheon submitted their respective proposals to win the rights to build the Air Force’s Space Fence, announced both companies. The Air Force envisions the fence as an S-band radar system capable of monitor objects in low Earth orbit, even items just the size of a softball. “With decades of experience developing powerful S-band radar systems, Lockheed Martin has proposed a scalable and affordable Space Fence solution for the Air Force that will transform space situational awareness,” said Steve Bruce, the company’s vice president for space surveillance systems, in a Nov. 13 release. Meanwhile, David Gulla, Raytheon’s vice president for global integrated sensors, stated in a Nov. 14 release: “Raytheon’s decades of expertise building large-scale radars in remote locations, our investment in key technologies, and the proven success of our working Space Fence prototype enable us to offer the US Air Force a low-risk solution at an affordable price.” The winner is expected to commence construction of the first Space Fence site—on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands—around September 2013 to enable operations to commence in 2017, Air Force officials have said. A second site—in Australia—is under consideration.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.