NASA’s 2003 budget does not include funding for its Orbital Debris Program Office, which monitors space junk that could damage or destroy satellites and other spacecraft. If funding is not restored by the end of September, the program will cease operations Oct. 1.

The program
, begun in 1979, has helped reveal the existence of more than 100,000 bits of small, mostly human-made space debris that are not tracked by any other agency. The junk has the potential to damage space shuttles, the international space station and other spacecraft.

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