23 June 2003. Thanks to A:
13 June 2003. Thanks to B, here's an informative site on the Naval Space
Command Space Surveillance System with photos of the Lake Kickapoo antenna:
US Naval Space Command Space Surveillance System
One of the lesser-known assets of the US Space Command's world-wide space
surveillance system is the 217 MHz NAVSPASUR "fence" across the southern
US. The following items from various sources (indicated in italics)
give some basic information about the system, its history and use.
NAVAL SPACE COMMAND
Headquartered at Dahlgren, Va., Naval Space Command began operations Oct.
1, 1983. Naval Space Command uses the medium of space and its potential to
provide essential information and capabilities to shore and afloat naval
forces by a variety of means:
Operating surveillance, navigation, communication, environmental, and information
Advocating naval warfighting requirements in the joint arena; and
Advising, supporting, and assisting the naval services through training,
and by developing space plans, programs, policies, concepts, and doctrine.
Naval Space Command's headquarters staff and operational element numbers
approximately 350 Navy military and civilian personnel. Their component commands
include the Naval Satellite Operations Center and the Fleet Surveillance
Naval Space Command, a component of USSPACECOM, operates assigned space systems
to provide surveillance and warning, and provides spacecraft telemetry and
on-orbit engineering support. In addition, Naval Space Command serves as
the Alternate Space Control Center [AASC] for USSPACECOM's primary centers
located at Cheyenne Mountain AS.
ASCC missions include operational direction of the entire global space
surveillance network (SSN) for commander in chief, USSPACECOM (USCINCSPACE).
The ASCC also detects, tracks, identifies, and catalogs all man-made objects
in space and provides position information on these objects to about 1,000
customers. In addition, ASCC is charged with monitoring the space environment
and informing owners and operators of U.S. and allied space systems of potential
threats to their assets by continuous liaison with the systems' operations
The heartbeat of Naval Space Command revolves around providing space support
to day-to-day operations of the Fleet and Fleet Marine Forces worldwide,
whether for routine deployments, exercises, or actions in response to a crisis
situation. This space support to terrestrial and naval forces can be categorized
across a broad spectrum of activities that encompass communications, surveillance
and indication, and warning, intelligence, navigation, and remote sensing.
A constant and vigilant surveillance of potentially hostile military threats
is critical in preserving the operational effectiveness of our armed forces
around the world. Naval Space Command manages two distinct surveillance efforts
in support of Fleet and Fleet Marine Forces: tracking satellites in orbit
and monitoring over-the-horizon threats from sea and air forces.
First, Naval Space Command operates a surveillance network of nine field
stations located across the southern U.S. Three transmitter sites in the
network are located at Jordan Lake, Ala., Lake Kickapoo, Texas, and Gila
River, Ariz. Six receiver sites are located at Tattnall, Ga., Hawkinsville,
Ga., Silver Lake, Miss., Red River, Ark., Elephant Butte, N.M., and San Diego,
Calif. [See links to aerial photos below.]
These surveillance stations produce a "fence" of electromagnetic energy that
can detect objects out to an effective range of 15,000 nautical miles.
Over one million satellite detections, or observations, are collected by
this surveillance network each month. Data gathered is transmitted to a computer
center at Naval Space Command headquarters in Dahlgren, where it is used
to constantly update a data base of spacecraft orbital elements. This information
is reported to Fleet and Fleet Marine Forces to alert them when particular
satellites of interest are overhead. The command also maintains a catalog
of all earth-orbiting satellites and supports USSPACECOM as part of the nation's
worldwide Space Surveillance Network...
Naval Space Command provides space intelligence support to deployed naval
forces through an initiative dubbed "Chambered Round." The Chambered Round
product is a message that provides deployed naval forces with tactical
assessments of hostile space capabilities and specific reactions to their
operations. This knowledge assists Fleet and Fleet Marine Force tactical
units in reducing their vulnerability to space reconnaissance efforts...
Lake Kickapoo Space Surveillance Station Archer City, Texas
The Lake Kickapoo Field Station, located on 180 acres of government owned
land approximately thirty miles southwest of Wichita Falls, TX in Archer
County is the primary Naval Space Command transmitter. It creates a fan of
energy, "the fence", that is narrow in the north-south direction and extends
from coast to coast over the southern United States. The Station is aligned
on a great circle path inclined to the equator at approximately 33 degrees
inclination. In conjunction with eight other field stations it forms the
NAVSPACECOM satellite sensor system. Two small transmitters supplement the
Lake Kickapoo generated "fence" and six receiver stations collect energy
reflected from satellites crossing the beam. Lake Kickapoo is the largest
continuous wave (CW) transmitter in the world with an average radiated power
of 766.8 KW and operates at a frequency of 216.98 MHz.
The antenna is a single two mile long linear dipole array. The Station was
built in two phases that resulted in halves once known as the North Site
and South Site. Each had 9 antenna bays that were aligned end to end to form
the full antenna array. Now the 18 bays have central control from the original
South Site and 2556 dipole elements form the total antenna array.
The operation and maintenance of the Field Station is provided under contract
by Rick Montoya Services Incorporated of McLean, VA. The Station is manned
solely by contract personnel with only the Center at Dahlgren, VA utilizing
civil service and military personnel.
The Lake Kickapoo Station is manned during the daytime work week by a Station
Manager, Technical Supervisor, Senior Technician, two Shift Technicians,
a Shift Assistant, two Maintenance Mechanics, a Maintenance Assistant and
a Part-time Secretary. At other times, two Electronic Technicians and one
Shift Assistant are on duty at the Station.
Total annual cost to operate this station is approximately $1.8M with $800K
of this being the cost of electricity.
A new phase reference system using infrared fiber optics replaced the aged
RF coaxial system in May 1993. This reference system monitors and maintains
phase integrity for the 2 mile long Kickapoo antenna. Recent improvements
at the Kickapoo site include a system controller upgrade to be completed
by mid 1996.
NAVSPACECOM fact sheet dated 23 January 1996
TABLE 3-10: SPASUR RADAR LOCATIONS TO BE PROTECTED INDEFINITELY
Transmit Frequency of 216.98 MHz
Lake Kickapoo Space Surveillance Station, TX
[Links are to Terraserver aerial photos of stations.]
Lake Space Surveillance Station, AL
River Space Surveillance Station, AZ
Receive Frequencies of 216.965-216.995 MHz
Diego Space Surveillance Station, CA
Butte Space Surveillance Station, NM
River Space Surveillance Station, AR
Lake Space Surveillance Station, MS
Space Surveillance Station, GA
Stewart Space Surveillance Station, GA
basic ecological research and predicting environmental impacts, and fixed
telemetry for seismic monitoring data that is fed into the worldwide seismic
network. The systems used by DOE in this band are low power and are generally
located away from heavily populated areas. The DOE estimates that the
reallocation cost for their telemetry systems, assuming the operations can
be re-accommodated in other frequency bands is $1.5 million. DOE low-power
seismic operations could be accommodated in the 162-174 MHz or 406.1-420
MHz band. The use of commercial satellite to relay seismic data will also
be given consideration.