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The Space Fence is down. That's the message we get from the , following up on our report last month that the U.S. Air Force was poised to shut down the radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth. It had been in operation since 1961. The Space Fence — also known by its formal name, the — consists of three transmitters and six receivers that stretch across the southern U.S., using radio waves to paint a picture of a slice of space. The items it detected ranged from satellites and debris to meteors.
While I think we should be maintaining this asset to protect ISS, our weather satellites and other publicly owned space platforms, it also seems to me that for only $14 million, private satellite operators ought to be ponying up to keep the system running. Losing just one communications satellite is certainly going to cost a lot more than $14million in lost telephone, TV, and internet traffic, not to mention the cost of the satellite itself.