Indra will implement Spain's system for space surveillance

Indra space surveillance

The company has been awarded the deployment in Spain of the complete S3T space surveillance system, which may be used to catalog uncontrolled orbiting objects. As part of the project, Indra will develop a radar with surveillance capabilities in orbits of between 200 and 2,000 km.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded Indra contracts to deploy the S3T surveillance and tracking system for objects in low Earth orbit, worth a total of €17 million. Indra has thus established itself as the main contractor in this Spanish program, the technical management of which has been entrusted to ESA, by virtue of an agreement with ESA, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, and the Center for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI).

The system is set to establish Spain as one of the few countries in the world to have such capabilities, helping to drive Europe's independence in terms of ensuring the security of satellites and space missions.

As part of the program, Indra will be entrusted with developing and supplying the surveillance radar, as well as coordinating implementation and integration of the operations center and the radar and electro-optical sensors for gathering complementary information.

The surveillance radar provided by Indra will cover orbits of between 200 and 2,000 kilometers altitude above the Earth's surface, where most orbital debris and satellites to be protected are found.

This state-of-the-art radar is strategic for Indra. It is a cutting-edge system that few countries in the world have access to. Development of the same will pose a significant technological challenge due to its size and the significant number of objects that it must detect simultaneously. 

Its scalable design may transform it into the most powerful radar ever designed in Europe through successive phases of Spanish and European investment. 

The new S3T system will provide Spain with a catalog of Earth orbiting objects, which can then be used to offer collision warnings of these objects with satellites and space infrastructure; an object re-entry warning service that includes information on the time and place of Earth impact; and a fragmentation service, which will detect the presence of new debris clusters and help to identify the object that generated these.

Once the system comes online, Spain will be one of the few countries capable of providing such services to the European Commission, which will harness the infrastructure of member states to monitor and track the trajectories of such objects in space. The service joins other key initiatives driven by the EC, such as Copernicus and Galileo.

To date, space missions and satellite launches depend on databases provided by the United States space monitoring system, the only country in the world capable of providing such services. It is thought that more than 70,000 uncontrolled objects are orbiting the Earth, posing a significant risk to the infrastructure that our communications and positioning systems, among many other services, depend on, as well as to the safety of the International Space Station.


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