ESA to Develop a New Radar, SSA for Detection of Space Hazards

European Space Agency (ESA) is to develop a novel radar system, to assist in protecting space missions, from hazardous objects orbiting the earth even in low trajectory.

The radar will locate the threat, and immediately issue alerts, and also, about when and where these objects enter the atmosphere of the Earth as early discovery of debris is vital to satellite operations to help satellite operators to circumvent collisions, for achieving safer standards in spaceflights.

An agreement was signed between ESA and Indra Espacio S.A of Spain, to develop the future Situational Awareness Surveillance (SSA) radar, and also create small scale phased-array demonstration radar (to substantiate the bigger radar). This contract is an important event in the SSA Preparatory Programme (SSA-PP) of ESA, and is valued at €4.7 million.

Indra Espacio is not only going to manage the project, but also design and develop the radar transmitter simultaneously, it is also trying to locate an appropriate place (in any ESA member State), for the radar to be based. The radar receiver will be constructed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar techniques.

According to Nicolas Bobrinsky, SSA Programme Manager, ESA, both the enterprises have vast experience in designing and developing space applications.

The SSA system will utilize several optical telescopes along with connected data processing centers, to help the system to observe objects in geostationary and medium orbits and all orbital regions that are inhabited.

The SSA program was empowered or sanctioned by ESA Ministerial Council Meeting, in November 2008, and its ultimate aim is to observe, predict and evaluate risk factors to life and property, from residues of man-made space matter, collisions, satellite based service capabilities, reentries, in-orbit explosions, consequences of space weather phenomena on land and space based facilities, possible impacts on Near-earth objects and disruption of missions.

The preparatory program will operate between 2011 and 2012. Based on the results obtained from the preparatory program, a proposal for the actual program will be initiated during the years 2012–2019.


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