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Lockheed Martin began construction on the Space Fence ground-based orbital tracking radar at Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, with a groundbreaking earlier this month, the company announced. "The number of small satellites and satellite operators around the world is skyrocketing, rapidly crowding an environment already congested by the more than 17,000 pieces of space debris that we are able to track today," said company Vice President for Advanced Systems Steve Bruce. Lockheed beat out Raytheon for the more than $915 million contract to design and build the system in 2014. Space Fence will replace the Air Force's legacy Space Surveillance System, which was shut down in 2013 due to sequester, beginning in 2018. The first site at Kwajalein will include an operations center, power plant upgrades, and utilities to make it self-sufficient, according to the release. "Space Fence will enable the Air Force to locate and track hundreds of thousands of objects orbiting Earth with more precision than ever," he added.