US, France to sign accord on tracking space debris

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US and French defense chiefs plan to sign a space cooperation agreement on Tuesday designed to help track debris in outer space threatening vital satellites, officials told AFP.

The accord follows the unveiling of a new US space security policy last week that called for building a network of foreign partners to save costs and deter possible threats to sensitive satellites.

US and French officials confirmed the agreement would try to bolster efforts to monitor the growing problem of space debris but offered no precise details. The space agreement is set to be signed during a visit by French Defense Minister Alain Juppe, who is scheduled to hold talks with his American counterpart, Robert Gates, on Tuesday at the Pentagon.

Their discussions are expected to address the crisis in Egypt and the war in Afghanistan, where France has about 3,750 troops deployed in the US-led coalition.

The US military heavily depends on satellites for communications, navigation, spying and targeting. Senior officers are increasingly worried about congestion in space, with the Pentagon tracking about 22,000 man-made objects in orbit.

© 2011 AFP

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