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UK explores new radar and IR tech to enhance SDA

UK company Spaceflux has been contracted to develop and operate a ground-based SDA sensor as part of Project Nyx Alpha to monitor objects in GEO for UK Space Command. (Spaceflux)

The UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is conducting three technology demonstrator programmes to explore the utility of novel space domain awareness (SDA) technologies.

The first programme is exploring the development of a Deep Space Radar (DSR) designed to monitor and protect geostationary orbit (GEO) assets such as the Skynet satellite communications system, William Feline, senior principal advisor for SDA at the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), said at the Military Space Situational Awareness Conference 2024, held in London from 22 to 24 April.

The purpose of the programme is also to assess whether the UK needs its own DSR capability or whether it can rely on or complement the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) currently being developed alongside Australia and the US, Emma Kerr, senior principal engineer for SDA at Dstl told Janes .

A monostatic or biostatic system is being considered as well as whether a new or existing system is required, Feline said.

Along with this, Dstl is investigating the development of an inverse synthetic aperture radar for the characterisation of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO). One of the technologies being assessed is a W-band gyro-travelling-wave amplifier (TWA), which could provide very high frequency and bandwidth as well as high-resolution images. High-power quasi-optical Faraday rotator (QOFR) is also being explored, Feline detailed.

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