AFWERX taps LeoLabs to demo radar for monitoring sats in very low orbits

June 13, 2024

Breaking Defense

he Department of the Air Force’s innovation hub, AFWERX, has awarded LeoLabs a contract to demonstrate a new radar system aimed at tracking objects in very low Earth orbit (VLEO), the company announced Wednesday.

Dan Ceperley, the company’s founder and now chief operating officer, told Breaking Defense that VLEO — typically defined as between 150 and 350 kilometers in altitude — is increasingly being used, including by Russia and China.

Russia’s “zombie sat“, Resurs-P, that suddenly in 2022 woke up after years of inactivity and began maneuvering, “was technically at kind of the upper end of VLEO [at] like 330 kilometers,” he said. China’s Shiyan-25 Earth observation technology demonstrator launched in June 2023 and the new Chutian-001 experimental remote sensing satellite launched on May 21 likewise are stationed in VLEO, he said.

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