The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) station in Gakona, Alaska, will be closed, according to the U.S. Air Force.
In a letter to Congress, military personnel have announced they will be dismantling the facility. Shutdown is scheduled to take place in the middle of June, after one final experiment at the location.
Construction of the $300 million facility was sponsored by the late Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. The station is funded by a joint effort of the United States Air Force and Navy, along with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and University of Alaska.
Official sources say HAARP researchers are developing methods of adapting the ionosphere for improved communications and interception of signals. A powerful radio transmitter emits high-frequency signals to electrically excite the ionosphere above the station. This area is then examined, using a wide range of tools, including radar, magnetometers and an ionospheric sounding device.
"We're moving on to other ways of managing the ionosphere, which the HAARP was really designed to do. To inject energy into the ionosphere to be able to actually control it. But that work has been completed," David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for science, technology and engineering, told congress.
Comments like this one can fuel debate controversy, debate, and conspiracy theories. Some observers believe the facility is able to control the weather. HAARP has also been blamed by some people for earthquakes, floods, the destruction of TWA flight 800 in 1996, and the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. Most scientists say these events are well beyond the capabilities of the HAARP station.
Still, military officials have made other remarks which seem to portray HAARP as a prototype weapon.
"[Terrorists] are engaging even in an eco-type of terrorism whereby they can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves. So there are plenty of ingenious minds out there that are at work finding ways in which they can wreak terror upon other nations. It's real, and that's the reason why we have to intensify our efforts," William Cohen, U.S. defense secretary, said in 1997.
Air Force officials tell the press they are dismantling the facility quickly, to avoid costs of winterizing unused equipment. This could fuel additional rumors centered on the military hiding secret technology.
Researchers from the University of Alaska have inquired about taking over control of the facility. However, they have not yet offered the five million dollars a year in funding needed to run the station.