The Air Force Space Surveillance System
, colloquially known as the Space Fence
, is a multistatic radar
system that detects orbital objects passing over America
. It is a component of the US space surveillance network
, and is claimed to be able to detect objects as small as 10cm (four inches) at heights up to 30,000 km (15,000 nautical miles.) Although formerly operated by the U.S. Navy
and known as NAVSPASUR
(short for "Naval Space Command Surveillance"), command passed to the Air Force 20th Space Control Squadron
on October_1, 2004. The operation's headquarters are at Dahlgren, Virginia
, while radar stations are spread out across the continental United States at roughly the level of the 33rd parallel north
There are three transmitter sites in the system:
The master transmitter at Lake Kickapoo is said to be the most powerful continuous wave (CW) station in the world, at 768 kW radiated power. Overhead imagery (see coordinates given above) of the Gila River and Jordan Lake sites suggests that the original design called for antennas of twice the present length with, presumably, greater radiated power.
There are 6 receiving stations:
The receiving stations at Elephant Butte and Hawkinsville are considered to be "High Altitude" stations with longer and more complex antenna systems that are designed to see targets at higher altitudes than the other four receiving stations.