OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. â€“ U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) entered into a new Space Situational Awareness (SSA) data-sharing agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA) today.
The agreement, which was signed by the two parties at ESA’s office in Washington, D.C., provides ESA with higher quality and more timely space information tailored for its organization’s specific purposes in exchange for satellite-positional and radio-frequency information on planned orbit manoeuvres. This allows USSTRATCOM to optimize surveillance which, in turn, generates more accurate and updated information for ESA.
“As more countries, companies and organizations field space capabilities and benefit from the use of space systems, it is in our collective interest to act responsibly, to promote transparency and to enhance the long-term sustainability, stability, safety and security in space,” said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USSTRATCOM commander. “That is why USSTRATCOM is committed to improving SSA services and expanding our cooperation through formal partnerships such as these.”
ESA joins seven nations and many other organizations, such as the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, already participating in SSA data-sharing agreements with USSTRATCOM.
Specialists at ESA’s European Space Operations Centre currently monitor five satellites in low orbital altitudes, with an additional six satellites joining in the years to come as part of ESA’s Earth Explorer and Copernicus programs.
“The Agreement improves ESA’s operations in low orbital altitudes, an environment that is contaminated with numerous debris from recent orbital fragmentation, at a moment in time where we are about to significantly increase the number of active missions in this orbit,” said ESA’s Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain. “The more timely and customizable data exchange enabled by this agreement will improve our measures for collision avoidance as well as the safety of satellites immediately after launch in their early operations phase.”
SSA data-sharing agreements enhance multinational space cooperation and streamline the process for USSTRATCOM partners to request specific information gathered by its Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The information is crucial for launch support, satellite maneuver planning, support for on-orbit anomalies, electromagnetic interference reporting and investigation, satellite decommissioning activities and on-orbit conjunction assessments.
ESA is an international, intergovernmental organization comprised of 20 European member states. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. It is involved in Earth Observation, telecommunications, scientific and human spaceflight programs, improving fundamental knowledge of the space environment as well as developing systems and services of daily use which need to be protected.