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U.S. Air Force to Shut Down ‘Space Fence’ Surveillance System
The U.S. Air Force will shut down its space surveillance system that tracks satellites and other orbiting objects by Oct. 1 due to budget constraints caused by automatic federal budget cuts known as the sequestration, it announced Monday.
Deactivating the system by Oct. 1 would save the Air Force Space Command $14 million annually starting in fiscal year 2014.
The surveillance system got the nickname “Space Fence” because it transmits a “fence” of radar energy vertically into space that can detect any object or debris that crosses it without being cued to do so.
Commander of the Air Force Space Command, General William Shelton, said the system – which has been in operation since 1961 – was outmoded and that newer technology will provide more accurate observations.
Shelton said a new Space Fence is being planned now, which will provide more precise positional data on orbiting objects and would become the most accurate radar in the Air Force’s space surveillance network.