Spain: A new radar designed to test methods for finding orbital debris that can be hazardous to space navigation has been installed in Spain. The radar will be used to develop future debris warning services, helping boost safety for European satellite operators.
Following an 18-month design and development phase, the radar was installed near Santorcaz, about 30 km from Madrid, and the first series of acceptance and validation tests are scheduled to begin in mid-November.
ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme office and Spain’s Indra Espacio S.A. signed a EUR 4.7-million contract to build the radar in 2010.
Early detection of debris is crucial to warn satellite operators of collision risks and enable avoidance manoeuvres.
Indra Espacio is the prime industrial partner and responsible for the design and development of the radar transmitter. The development of the radar receiver was subcontracted to the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques (FHR), Wachtberg, Germany.
“Installation of the test radar at Santorcaz is a significant milestone in ESA’s SSA programme,” said Nicolas Bobrinsky, Head of ESA’s Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme.
“Spanish and German industries are developing world-class technical expertise,” he added.
“Fielding a so-called ‘breadboard’ radar means that Spanish and German industry are developing world-class technical expertise in the radar detection of hazardous space debris. Breadboard’ means that the radar is easily reconfigurable depending on test results, helping engineers optimise its performance over time,” he explained.