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Description of the radar set, tactical-technical characteristics

Figure 1: GESTRA, the receivers shelter

Figure 1: GESTRA, the receivers shelter

frequency: 1 280 … 1 380 MHz
pulse repetition time (PRT):
pulse repetition frequency (PRF):
pulsewidth (τ): (≈ 2 ms *)
receiving time:
dead time:
peak power: 256 kW
average power: 64 kW
instrumented range: 3 000 km
range resolution: (≈ 1 m *)
accuracy: (≈ 15 cm *)
beamwidth: (≈ 4° *)
hits per scan:
antenna rotation:

(Unfortunately, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft did not cooperate with an official request for secured tactical-technical data of the radar.)


GESTRA (German Experimental Space Surveillance and Tracking Radar) is a quasi-monostatic scientific radar. The operating in L-Band phased-array radar is designed to monitor the low-earth orbit. It supports the German Space Situational Awareness Center to generate a catalog of orbital data for objects at altitudes between 300 and 3000 km.

The radar uses different antennas and shelters for transmitting and receiving. They are set up at a distance of about 100 m. Both antenna apertures consist of 256 active cavity backed stacked patch antennas in a circular arrangement, whereby the transmitting radiators are excited with linear polarization, and the receiver’s radiator elements are designed with double polarization. The corresponding transmitter modules at the rear of the transmitting antenna are water-cooled. The receiving antenna use the principle of digital beamforming.

GESTRA was developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for high-frequency physics and radar techniques, based in Wachtberg, Germany.

Picture gallery of GESTRA

Figure 2: balanced amplifier module of the transmitter

Figure 3: GESTRA at its site near Madrid