Pacific Defense to Provide USAF With Space Situational Awareness Sensor

The US Air Force Research Laboratory has contracted California-based Pacific Defense to provide and demonstrate a sensor for space situational awareness missions.

As part of the program, the company will deliver its small, lightweight power sensor “Moonraker” to operate in the cislunar region, or the space between the Earth and the moon.

“The US and partner nations are experiencing unprecedented challenges in detecting and tracking activities in the cislunar domain,” Pacific Defense Space Systems Vice President Bryan Terlecky stated.

“Moonraker presents a fresh approach to space payload design and support for this important mission, with the potential for rapid, affordable proliferation of [space situational awareness] sensors across cislunar space.”

Securing Cislunar Space

Pacific Defense will leverage its expertise in modular systems to incorporate features onto the capability, including graphics processing unit technology, a 3U software-defined radio, and open software framework comprising company and industry-provided space situational awareness applications.

Work on the Moonraker prototype will run for two years at US government facilities.

The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Pacific Defense are exploring options to send the sensor into space for in-orbit demonstrations.

“The AFRL Space Control team is excited to work with Pacific Defense to research, develop and demonstrate this innovative and cost-effective sensing capability for cislunar space,” AFRL Space Control Technology Branch Chief Brian Engberg said.

“This capability will help us achieve a multi-layered ability that ensures cislunar space remains a safe and transparent operational environment.”

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