The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded Indra three contracts worth a total of €5.4 M to design a future radar system for the surveillance of objects close to the Earth as well as the development of its working prototype. The company will also determine its location and develop the simulator for the system. The contracts strengthen Indra’s role within the preparatory stage of the Space Situational Awareness (SSA), promoted by ESA.

The working prototype will prove, in a real scenario, its capacity to detect objects in Low Earth Orbits at altitudes between 200 and 2,000 km and will require Indra to design one of the most advanced radar systems capable of operating at such distances. The study of feasibility and the tests will last for two years—until 2012. The results will form the basis for ESA to lay the basis for building the actual detection network. The tests with the prototype will help determine the structure and amount of equipment so that costs can be estimated.

The other two contracts include the development of a radar simulator that will predict the radar’s system performance and will be used to optimise its final design. Indra is also considering the locations for the optimisation of the future surveillance radar in Europe and the report will help ESA decide the location.

The initiative seeks to increase security of space missions in the event of collisions with orbiting objects, magnetic storms or meteors. The project is within the strategy of the European Union to gain further insight into the space environment by proprietary means, which will undertake surveillance of nearby orbits and will monitor more distant zones. For this purpose, different technologies such as radars and optic telescopes, etc., will be employed.