US “Space Fence” Shut Down
The Air Force Space Surveillance System (AFSSS) — the “Space Fence” — used to detect objects in orbit, was turned off September 1. Three transmitter sites operate on 216.983, 216.97 and 216.99 MHz, and there are six receiving stations.
Some Amateur Radio meteor scatter enthusiasts enjoyed monitoring the VHF transmissions for indications of activity.
Attributed to the automatic budget cuts known as “sequestration,” the shutdown came a month earlier than anticipated. Early in August Space News reported that Gen William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, had directed the AFSSS, located in Texas, “be closed and all sites vacated” effective October 1, the start of the new US government fiscal year.
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs reported August 13, “AFSPC officials have devised modified operating modes for the Perimeter Acquisition Radar Characterization System at Cavalier Air Force Station, North Dakota, and for the space surveillance radar at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, allowing discontinuation of AFSSS operations while still maintaining space situational awareness.”
A new Space Fence radar is planned for Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands. — SatWatch; USAF Public Affairs