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USAF looks to control costs of space operations

The US Air Force space command is looking for ways to battle budget cuts by using smaller satellites, fee-for-service communications and partnering with other nations.

In addition to a $489 million cut to the defence department's FY2013 budget, a similar amount could be cut by sequestration in the coming months.

"Double the cuts, there are clearly some [satellite] constellations that will be impacted. We've been able to keep the major constellations [but] you can't preserve the major constellations with those kinds of cuts," says Gen William Shelton, of space command.

Despite the possibility of budget sequestration, Shelton says there is clear direction from senior officials not to plan for such reductions: "I wouldn't want to presuppose how we're going to look at it." Spacecom will not examine the consequences of sequestration until directed to do so by the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

Partnership with other militaries, such as on the sixth wideband global satcom satellite initiated when Australia bought into the programme, is another possibility.

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