The US Air Force (USAF) is allocating more than half a billion dollars in fiscal 2010 to track space debris which could potentially threaten communication networks.
A senior Defense Department official, Gary E Payton, deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space programs, has presented a series of initiatives, budgeted at $506 million, designed to keep satellites safer from orbiting junk.
The programme includes a Space-based Space Surveillance satellite, completed last month, and to be launched in June as well as the creation of a joint centre to monitor space traffic. This is a critical initiative as collisions have the potential to cause severe damage. In February this year an American communication satellite was lost after a collision with an old Russian communication satellite.
Payton also revealed that the Transformational Satellite System, a $2.5 billion programme that would have created a network of satellites for ultra-secure military and defence communication, had now been cancelled and would be replaced by a $2.3 billion programme for the acquisition of one more Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite in fiscal 2010.
The first of the AEHF satellites is scheduled to launch in September 2010, he said.
The Air Force will also spend $927.8 million on next generation of Global Positioning System technologies and $1.01 billion on ballistic missile detection satellites.