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AFWERX Taps LeoLabs to Develop New VLEO Radar System

Radar development

AFWERX Taps LeoLabs to Develop New VLEO Radar System

LeoLabs will support the innovation hub of the Department of the Air Force in developing and testing the capabilities of a new radar system designed to track objects in very low Earth orbit.

Tony Frazier, CEO of LeoLabs, said the Small Business Innovation Research Phase II contract from AFWERX covers the delivery of an S-band-D Direct Radiating Array, a technology that improves the tracking of non-cooperative launches, smaller orbital debris and other objects in VLEO.

Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Dan Ceperly said that VLEO is recently receiving attention due to growing Russian and Chinese operations. In 2022, Russia’s Resurs-P zombie satellite woke up after years of inactivity and started exploring the upper end of VLEO, Breaking Defense reported.

Ceperly also discussed ways the new S-band-D radar differs from the company’s existing line of radars and how its design allows customers to size it up or down depending on their needs and budget.

AFWERX is not the only government organization involved in exploring technologies for VLEO. In April, Phase Four secured a $14.9 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create an air-breathing electric propulsion system for VLEO satellites.

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Category: Space