Indra of Spain will design and develop a prototype radar ground sensor and a system simulator for use in a future European space surveillance network under two-year contracts with the European Space Agency (ESA) valued at a combined 5.4 million euros ($7.4 million), Madrid-based Indra announced Oct. 4.

The prototype will demonstrate an initial ability to track objects in Earth orbit at altitudes of between 200 and 2,000 kilometers, and will give ESA governments a clearer idea of the eventual cost of a European space situational awareness program.

The 18-nation ESA is studying such a system under preliminary approval given by its governments in 2008. These governments are scheduled to meet in 2012 to review whether to proceed to full system development. In addition to tracking objects in orbit, the program is intended to give Europe a greater capacity to predict space weather, such as solar or magnetic storms.