US 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.
The system that will be discontinued on Oct. 1 is a series of three transmitters and six receivers located across different points in the southern United States. It is operated by Five Rivers Services in Colorado.
“When combined with the new Joint Space Operations Center’s high performance computing environment, the new fence will truly represent a quantum leap forward in space situational awareness for the nation,” Shelton said in a statement Monday.
The Air Force Space Surveillance System, colloquially known as the Space Fence, is a multistatic radar system that detects orbital objects passing over America. It is a component of the US space surveillance network, and is claimed to be able to detect objects as small as 10 cm (four inches) at heights up to 30,000 km (15,000 nautical miles.) Although formerly operated by the U.S. Navy and known as NAVSPASUR (short for “Naval Space Surveillance”), command passed to the Air Force 20th Space Control Squadron on October 1, 2004. The operation’s headquarters are at Dahlgren, Virginia, and radar stations are spread out across the continental United States at roughly the level of the 33rd parallel north.
In 2009, the operations and maintenance contract for the day-to-day management and operation of the Fence was awarded to Five Rivers Services, LLC, based out of Colorado Springs, CO. On September 30, 2011, Five Rivers Services was awarded a $7,022,503 firm fixed price with cost reimbursable line items contract modification to manage, operate, maintain, and logistically support the nine Air Force Space Surveillance System field stations, presumably for Fiscal Year 2012.
that doesnt seem to be a wise move with ison floating around and the recent russian event?
who protects the ISS?
who was five rivers services? and look at the juicy contract they had..