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The U.S. Air Force's Space Fence program office is developing a large ground-based radar that is expected to improve on the performance of and replace the Air Force Space Surveillance System, which became operational in 1961 and has been shut down. The Space Fence radar will emit radio frequencies upward to space, from ground-based radar sites, to detect and track more and smaller Earth-orbiting objects than is currently possible, and provide valuable space situational awareness data to military and civilian users.
The Air Force had originally planned to award a contract for Space Fence systems development in July 2012, but due to internal program reviews and budget re-prioritizations, this date has been delayed to May 2014. In addition, the number of radar sites planned has been reduced from two to one, though DOD plans to have an option under the system development contract to build a second site if needed.