Although an order had been issued by US Air Force Space Command General William Shelton to close the Air Force Space Surveillance System known as the Space Fence in October. The order has caused consternation throughout the space world, as the Space Fence provides the only tracking of uncued space debris. Now it seems, the bad news has arrived only too soon.
As NPR reports, the Space Fence has ceased operations, a month ahead of schedule:
“The final satellite I captured an RF reflection from was the Meteor Priroda,” says Mike Coletta of SatWatch, “which went over the transmitter site at approx 0000 hrs UTC [on Sept. 1], and there have been no more reflections since that time.”
Shutting down the system will save around $14 million annually, the Air Force Space Command said last month. The agency hopes to install a new version of the fence using technology that it says will be more accurate.
A new Space Fence has been planned, but the contract has yet to be awarded, much less the infrastructure built. In the best case scenario, it could be operational in 2018.
Read more about the closure here.