- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2014

The Pentagon is moving forward with a multibillion-dollar plan to build a system of radars that would track defunct satellites parts and other space debris – a program delayed by sequestration budget cuts.

The “Space Fence” would replace an old Air Force space surveillance system that the government shut down in the fall of 2013. It was initially projected to save about $14 million per year, according to space analysts.

But the Pentagon’s top brass placed Space Fence on a list of items left in limbo by the sequestration budget reductions.

But with new budget maneuvering room, the Defense Department announced Monday that Lockheed Martin Corp. would be given $915 million to implement the program’s first phase, designed to increase the Pentagon’s ability to track space junk floating in low-Earth orbit.

The contract is the Pentagon’s first step toward protecting sensitive military satellites floating near the fringes of the planet, according to Greg Allen, a space industry analyst for the Avascent Group.

 “Space is an immensely important strategic capability of the United States and that capability is manifested in these satellites and spacecraft that we have in orbit … and all this is put at risk by the problem of space debris,” he said.