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HENSOLDT unveils Space Domain Awareness radar for JP9360

German sensor company HENSOLDT will work with the Fraunhofer Institute to turn the GESTRA German Experimental Space Surveillance and Tracking Radar) technology demonstrator into a production ready, operationally deployable system called Custodian. To this end, HENSOLDT has acquired the necessary licenses from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and concluded a cooperation agreement.

The GESTRA/Custodian system is also expected to form the basis of HENSOLDT Australia’s Australian Space Surveillance and Tracking Radar (ASTRA) which the company is offering for the Australian Defence Force’s JP 9360 Space Domain Awareness (SDA) requirement. ASTRA will be a sovereign Australian system comprising a suite of relocatable multi-technology Advanced Electronic Scanned Array (AESA) sensors to detect, track, identify, and characterise space objects.

The prototype was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Technology FHR on behalf of the German Space Agency at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The radar is currently providing initial proof of performance at the Schmidtenhöhe site training area near Koblenz. The contract with the DLR also called for commercialization of the technology. Following an international call for tenders, Fraunhofer has now awarded the rights for series production to the Ulm-based radar specialist HENSOLDT Sensors GmbH. The two companies signed a corresponding license agreement on January 12, 2023.

“This project is a beacon of German capability, founded on close cooperation between cutting-edge research and a high-tech company. It enables Germany to build an important national capability in the field of a key technology and at the same time make a valuable contribution to international partnerships,” said Peter Schlote, member of the HENSOLDT Executive Committee and Head of the Radar Division.

“Based on the GESTRA technology, a global network of ground-based radar systems can be established to monitor near-Earth space. The goal is to detect and track space debris, which increasingly poses a threat to space travel and to the deployment and operation of satellites,” added Professor Peter Knott, institute director of Fraunhofer FHR.

 “It is known that the German Bundeswehr is aiming to procure independent sensor technology for space reconnaissance,” said Peter Schlote. “Knowing full well that the German Armed Forces have high requirements, the specialists of the Space Command would be our first choice as a partner.”

“Bringing cutting-edge technology developed at Fraunhofer FHR into operational use with the Bundeswehr together with industrial partners is one of our inherent tasks,” said Professor Knott. “GESTRA plays a special role in this for us, as it is one of the largest development projects in our history in Wachtberg.”

A cooperation agreement between HENSOLDT and Fraunhofer FHR ensures that future developments of the technology can also be incorporated into the system as capability enhancements.

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