Friday, August 9, 2013

Space Fence shutting down?

SpaceNews reports that the Air Force is shutting down a part of its network for tracking satellites and orbital debris, possibly as soon as Oct. 1. Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, directed that the Air Force Space Surveillance System, known as Space Fence and a component of the U.S. space surveillance network, be closed and all sites vacated. A memo obtained by SpaceNews to Five Rivers Services of Colorado Springs, Colo., operator of the Space Fence tracking system, said the Air Force was not exercising its option for a fifth year of a contract to provide management and logistical support for the nine field stations. Space Fence is responsible for about 40 percent of all observations of the space surveillance network. Shelton said in July that engineers at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., home of the 20th Space Control Squadron, were looking for ways to improve the current Space Fence as a contingency plan should the Pentagon elect not to go forward with the next-generation system. Efforts to award a contract to build and updated version of the Space Fence system have been held up by budgetary concerns. (Sources: multiple, including Space News, 08/06/13, International Business Times, 08/07/13, NPR, 08/08/13) Previous: Group tackling space debris; AF begins using SBSS