The new version of this civil and military radar, owned by the Spanish Ministry of Defence and part of the S3T space surveillance and tracking system launched by the Centre for the Development of Technology and Innovation (CDTI), will incorporate transmission elements (TX) up to quadruple its current power. It will thus reinforce the country’s ability to protect satellites and space assets against potential unintentional threats, such as space debris, and intentional threats, including enemy satellites approaching with the purpose of damaging, interfering with or spying on military space assets.
The project involves the completion of the civil work infrastructure on the radar site, located at the Morón Air Base in Seville, the production of new transmission elements (TX) and the integration and testing of the complete V2-I system and the Site Acceptance Test (SAT).
Thanks to this scalability, Indra’s system will be able to detect and characterize much smaller objects, covering the entire Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
The project will also incorporate the civil work resources that will make it possible to increase its power even further in the future, multiplying its original capacity by up to 16 times when the latest planned version (V3) is completed.
“This project constitutes an initial milestone in the planned roadmap to expand our capabilities with which our space radar came into being, demonstrating its modularity and scalability. This roadmap opens up the door to future extensions that include the incorporation of special modes, such as ballistic missile detection and tracking, which will contribute to the increase in space defence capabilities”, explained Cristina Vives, Indra’s Space Director.
The S3TSR radar is currently operated by the Spanish Air and Space Force from the Space Surveillance Operations Center (COVE) and it supplies daily data to the EU-SST (European Union Space Surveillance and Tracking Partnership) consortium network, to which it has contributed with the substantial increase in its capacity to detect and warn of the likelihood of numerous satellites colliding.
Indra’s radar was the first one in Europe capable of detecting fragments of Microsat-R and COSMOS 1408, the satellites destroyed in the Indian and Russian anti-satellite missile tests. It also monitors the trajectories of intelligence satellites from other countries.
Space: a strategic sector
The economy and security and defense of countries depend more and more on services provided from space, which makes satellites a strategic asset and clear objective in the event of conflict. Communications, air and maritime transport, logistics and meteorological information depend on its functioning correctly.
Indra is a global leader in technological engineering with operations going back over thirty years in the space sector. It has played a key role in the development of major European space infrastructures, including the Copernicus Earth observation system and the Galileo global geopositioning system. It has also deployed the ground segment of Paz, the Spanish Earth observation satellite, and, in partnership with ENAIRE, a company linked to the new space, it has launched Startical, which is working on the development of a constellation with more than 200 small satellites to provide air traffic management services around the globe.