Space Fence System display unveiled at Heritage Center

  • Published
  • By Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

Michele Evans, vice president and general manager of Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors for Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems, accompanied by Robert Condren, Don Tomajen and Nancy FitzGerald, assisted Col. Phil Garrant, director of the Space and Missile Systems Center's Space Superiority Directorate in unveiling a new informational display at the SMC Heritage Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, May 11.

Lockheed Martin donated the display to the SMC Heritage Center, which is maintained by the SMC History Office, to inspire and educate students in the surrounding South Bay beach cities and local school communities.

A major highlight of the new display is a small-scale representational model of the Space Fence System, a sophisticated S-band ground-based radar sensor that will dramatically improve the way the U.S. Air Force identifies and tracks objects in Earth orbit.

Space Fence will monitor and protect critical space assets. Large phased array radar antenna will provide sensitivity for timely uncued detection, tracking and accurate measurements of smaller space objects primarily in Low-Earth Orbit, and also support Medium-Earth Orbit and Geosynchronous-Earth Orbit tasking, through the use of Gallium Nitride transmitters, element-level Digital Beamforming with thousands of simultaneous beams, and simultaneous dual polarization.

            “The locations and frequency of the new Space Fence radars will permit the detection of much smaller microsatellites and debris than current systems. The Space Fence design will significantly improve the timeliness with which operators can detect space events, which could present potential threats to GPS satellites or the International Space Station,” Garrant explained. “The radar sensitivity and system flexibility with element level digital beamforming will also provide coverage of deep space geosynchronous orbits while maintaining the surveillance fence.”

            Construction is underway on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Ground breaking occurred in February 2015. The Space Fence Operations Center is being co-located at Reagan Test Site Operation Center in Huntsville, Alabama, or ROC-H. The Initial Operational Capability of the system with the first radar is scheduled for Fiscal Year (FY)2019.

            U.S. Air Force personnel and engineers from prime contractor Lockheed Martin are currently testing and training on a scaled-down version of the system in Moorestown, New Jersey, known as the Integration Test Bed or ITB. The ITB provides the operational context to integrate and test end-item hardware and software prior to installation in the new Space Fence facility on Kwajalein.

            The SMC Heritage Center is a field activity of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. A complex of historical exhibits and monuments to Air Force space and missile development located both indoors and outdoors at Los Angeles AFB, it allows the Space and Missile Systems Center to display collections of artifacts about SMC's history. Opening a new central display area in October 2014, the Center’s mission is to collect, preserve and provide information about the programs, accomplishments, and heritage of SMC and Air Force space missions.

Displays are located throughout the lobby areas of Bldgs. 270 and 271 within the Schriever Space Complex, and the SMC Heritage Center, located on the ground floor of Bldg. 271 in Rm. B1-516-525.

The displays include graphics, scale models, and artifacts dealing with the history of programs such as the Air Force Satellite Control Network, Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles, Global Positioning System satellite constellation, Space Based Infrared System, and others. The center also features a large timeline of SMC's accomplishments and facsimiles of important early space documents such as early RAND (Research ANd Development) Corporation study of a military satellite system and the 1955 briefing for Gen. Bernard Schriever that transferred the WS-117L reconnaissance satellite office from the Wright Air Development Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio to the Western Development Division -- forerunner of today’s SMC -- in El Segundo, California.

Public tours of the SMC Heritage Center are given twice a week every Tuesday and Thursday from 11:30 12:30 p.m. Tours can be requested by emailing the SMC Heritage Center at, or calling (310) 653-3009 for more information.