Departments of Commerce and Defense Sign Space Traffic Management Cooperation Agreement
WASHINGTON — The Departments of Commerce and Defense have signed an agreement to cooperate on the transfer of responsibility for the management of civil and commercial space traffic.
Don Graves, assistant secretary of commerce, announced the memorandum of understanding, or MOA, between his department and the Pentagon during a Sept. 9 meeting of the National Space Council at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The agreement “will drive our mutual work”, he said. “It’s really going to allow us to not only have a basic level of space traffic awareness, but it’s also going to allow us to stimulate research, innovation, we all know we need to maximize the space environment for future generations. .”
The agreement, the Commerce Department said in a statement, sets out how the two departments will work together to implement the provisions of Space Policy Directive (SPD) 3 in 2018 that directed commerce to provide knowledge Space Situational Analysis (SSA) and Space Traffic Management (STM). services, such as conjunction warnings, currently provided by the US military. The statement did not specify the specific terms of the agreement.
“Establishing and maintaining coordinated SSA and STM technology, data and services for civil and commercial entities is the foundation of the Department of Commerce’s efforts to ensure the continued, safe and sustainable growth of the commercial space industry. “, Rick Spinrad, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in the press release. NOAA hosts the Office of Space Commerce, which is responsible for establishing a civilian STM capability.
“We are delighted to join the DoC in this effort and seek to expand our relationships with industry, allies and partners to help achieve the goals of SPD-3,” said John Plumb, Deputy Secretary of Defense. for space policy, in the press release. . Plumb signed the deal for the Department of Defense with US Space Force and US Space Command officials.
“This MOA is a necessary first step for a civil authority to perform space object tracking and reporting,” said Gen. James Dickinson, commander of U.S. Space Command, in a statement.
A key part of Commerce’s efforts to build a civilian STM capability is the development of an open-architecture data repository that will combine SSA data provided by the US military with data from commercial and international sources. As part of this effort, the Office of Space Commerce issued a request for proposals in July for commercial SSA data that would be used in pilot programs.
Graves announced at the Space Council meeting that the department had made its first data purchases as part of this effort. Neither he nor the bureau immediately disclosed the companies selected or the value of the awards, but said the data would cover both low Earth orbit and geostationary orbit.
One company that received a contract was LeoLabs, which operates a global network of radars to track objects in low Earth orbit. The company said it will provide real-time and archived data on a subset of objects it tracks in orbit for use by the Office of Space Commerce in evaluating prototype STM systems.
“Traffic in LEO is growing exponentially, driven by business innovation and economic opportunity,” Dan Ceperley, chief executive of LeoLabs, said in a statement. “LeoLabs was founded to drive innovation in space traffic management, so we look forward to working with the U.S. government on this effort to ensure the continued success of the space industry.”
Graves told the board meeting that later this fall the Office of Space Commerce will conduct an “all commercial” pilot of an STM system. “It will seek to replicate some of DoD’s core security services using only commercial data and analytical services.”