NASA, SpaceX Sign Joint Spaceflight Safety Agreement

An illustration showing some of the many NASA satellites in Earth orbit (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX have signed a joint agreement to formalize both parties’ strong interest in the sharing of information to maintain and improve space safety. This agreement enables a deeper level of coordination, cooperation, and data sharing, and defines the arrangement, responsibilities, and procedures for flight safety coordination.

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Slingshot Aerospace Names Melanie Stricklan CEO and Gets Laser-Focused on Space Initiatives

Melanie Stricklan (Credit: Slingshot Aerospace)

David Godwin remains Chairman of the Board and will focus on corporate development

AUSTIN, Texas & EL SEGUNDO, Calif.–(Slingshot Aerospace PR)–Slingshot Aerospace, Inc., a leader in situational awareness technology, announced today that the company’s Co-founder Melanie Stricklan has been named Chief Executive Officer effective immediately as the company gets laser-focused on space. Co-founder and former CEO David Godwin will remain active within the company as Chairman of the Board where he will focus on expanding corporate development activities.

“We are honored to have gained such amazing traction in the space industry by securing contracts with customers like the U.S. Space Force and NASA that are not only paragons of the domain, but are critical to our nation’s defense, progress, and way of life,” said Stricklan. “We have an extraordinary team, including a number of space domain experts, and we look forward to putting an even greater focus on the industry across public and private sectors to make a bigger impact on the world.”

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European Union Consolidating Space Programs Under Expanded & Renamed GNSS Agency

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The European Union (EU) is consolidating its space programs under an existing agency that is being given an expanded mandate.

The European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA), which will be renamed the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUASP), will take on managing the use of the Copernicus Earth observation satellite system and oversee new initiatives in satellite communications named GOVSATCOM and space situational awareness (SSA).

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European Commission Welcomes Political Agreement on EU Space Program

European GNSS Agency (GSA) to evolve into European Union Agency for the Space Programme, with expanded duties and responsibilities

BRUSSELS (European Commission PR) — The Commission welcomes the political agreement between the European Parliament and the EU Member States on the European Union Space Programme proposed by the Commission in June 2018. Trilogue negotiations have now concluded with the political agreement, pending the final approval of the legal texts by the European Parliament and the Council. The EU Space Programme will bring all existing and new space activities under the umbrella of a single programme.

Thanks to the financial envelope of €13.202 billion agreed by the co-legislators, the EU Space Programme will ensure the further development of the current European flagship programmes, Copernicus for earth observation and Galileo/EGNOS for satellite navigation.  It will also enable the launching of European initiatives in satellite communication (GOVSATCOM) and on Space Situational Awareness (SSA) for the protection of space infrastructure from space debris.

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ISRO Opens Space Situational Awareness Center

BANGALORE, India (ISRO PR) — In view of ever-growing population of space objects and the recent trend towards mega-constellations, Space Situational Awareness (SSA) has become an integral and indispensable part of safe and sustainable space operations.

For the last few decades, ISRO has been carrying out SSA activities, mainly focused on safeguarding India’s space assets. Recognising the need for dedicated efforts to tackle the emerging challenges of operating in an exceedingly crowded and contested space domain, Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management (DSSAM) has been established at ISRO.

The Directorate engages in evolving improved operational mechanisms to protect Indian space assets through effective coordination amongst ISRO/DOS Centres, other space agencies and international bodies, and establishment of necessary supporting infrastructures, such as additional observation facilities for space object monitoring, and a control centre for centralized SSA activities.

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Congress Approves Boost for Office of Space Commerce, Funding for Weather Satellites

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Congress approved a budget boost for the Office of Space Commerce (OSC) as it gears up to oversee civilian space traffic management (STM) and space situational awareness (SSA).

Congress provided OSC with $10 million and approved its plan with the merge with the Office of Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 approved on Monday. The amount is $5.9 million above the total the two offices received fiscal year 2020.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had wanted to elevate OSC into a bureau that would report directly to him. However, Congress elected to keep the office within the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS).

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Global Leader in SSA/STM Officially Launches as Independent Company

EXTON, Pa. (COMSPOC PR) — COMSPOC Corp. — a global leader in space situational awareness (SSA), space domain awareness (SDA), and space traffic coordination and management (STCM) — commences as an independent company and no longer a subsidiary of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI). 

COMSPOC retains all SSA/STCM intellectual property, contracts, the products and services associated with SSA, SDA, and STM as well as its research arm, the Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI), and the free space data service, CelesTrak. COMSPOC will also continue to provide staffing and resources for several global organizations including the Space Data Association and the Space Safety Coalition.

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NASA Releases Best Practices Handbook to Help Improve Space Safety

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has released the first iteration of its Spacecraft Conjunction Assessment and Collision Avoidance Best Practices Handbook to share information on best practices for coordinating in-orbit activity in a safe and responsible manner. The agency aims for these best practices to bolster stability, reduce current and future operational risks, and contribute to a sustainable space environment for future public and private sector activities.

Emerging commercial ventures, such as satellite servicing, in-space manufacturing, and tourism, as well as new technologies enabling small satellites and large constellations of satellites, present serious challenges for safely and responsibly using space in a stable, sustainable manner. These challenges affect not only the United States, but also its allies and industry partners.

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Slingshot Aerospace Raises $8 Million in Series A Funds Led by ATX Ventures

AUSTIN, Texas/EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Slingshot Aerospace, Inc., a leader in situational awareness technology, announced that it has raised $8 million in Series A funds for a total raised of $17.1 million to date.

The round is led by ATX Venture Partners, and includes additional investments from Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Techstars Ventures, and Okapi Venture Capital. Angel investors that participated in the round include former CEO of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation and current Principal Consultant for Plum Run, LLC Keith Masback; Gregory Mead and Marie-Alicia Chang, co-founders of Semetric; and Glenn Degenaars who was recognized as a Top Wealth Advisor for 2020 by Forbes.

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NorthStar Building World’s First Satellite Constellation to Combat Imminent Threat of Space Collisions

Skylark satellites (Credit: NorthStar)

MONTREAL (NorthStar Earth & Space PR) — NorthStar Earth & Space (NorthStar), a Canadian company with a first-in-space mission to deliver safe and sustainable operations for the rapidly accelerating New Space Economy, has contracted Thales Alenia Space (TAS) to build the first three satellites of its debut “Skylark” constellation for Space Situational Awareness (SSA) services, with Seattle, WA’s LeoStella overseeing the final assembly.

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Wicker Introduces Space Preservation and Conjunction Emergency Act to Put Commerce Department in Charge of Space Situational Awareness

WASHINGTON (Senate Commerce Committee PR) – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today introduced the Space Preservation and Conjunction Emergency (SPACE) Act. The legislation would authorize the Department of Commerce (DOC) to provide space situational awareness (SSA) services to civil, commercial, and international space operators. 

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Im­proved Safe­ty in Space – GES­TRA Space Radar Ready to Be­gin Op­er­a­tions

Front of the GESTRA phased antenna (Credit: DLR)
  • After five years of development and construction, the first German space radar with transmitter and receiver units has been installed at Schmidtenhöhe near Koblenz.
  • Close cooperation between the DLR Space Administration, the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques (FHR) and the German Space Situational Awareness Centre.
  • GESTRA data will also be used to improve security in low-Earth orbit at the European level.

Activity in space continues to increase. Several thousand satellites, spacecraft and other objects orbit Earth at altitudes of between 300 and 3000 kilometres. In addition to the inactive satellites and upper stages of rockets that are left behind here after missions, there are hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces of debris.

Satellites and other space infrastructure such as the International Space Station (ISS) need to be continuously monitored to avoid collisions. Active objects can engage in evasive manoevres, while inactive space debris such as disfunctional satellite parts, or the remains of rockets, pose a threat.

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The Current State of Space Debris

Debris and defunct launcher stages in the Geostationary ring. Aging satellites are known to release debris and explosions can occur due to residual energy sources. The resulting fragments can be thrown back and cross the Geostationary orbit. For this reason it’s fundamental to release residual energy once the nominal mission is completed. (Credit: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Swirling fragments of past space endeavours are trapped in orbit around Earth, threatening our future in space. Over time, the number, mass and area of these debris objects grows steadily, boosting the risk to functioning satellites.

ESA’s Space Debris Office constantly monitors this ever-evolving debris situation, and every year publishes a report on the current state of the debris environment.

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18 SPCS Now Predicts Debris-on-debris Collisions in Space, Enhancing Space Domain Awareness

An artist’s depiction of the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite tracking space debris. The 18th Space Control Squadron uses data collected from SBSS, and other sensors in the Space Surveillance Network, to track objects orbiting the earth, and provide Space Domain Awareness for space faring nations. (Credit: U.S. Space Command)

by Maj. Cody Chiles 
Combined Force Space Component Command

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Sept. 24, 2020 — For the first time, the Combined Force Space Component Command’s 18th Space Control Squadron began publicly sharing data for debris-on-debris conjunction predictions via www.Space-Track.org, Sept. 24.

Previously, the 18 SPCS only released debris-on-active satellite conjunction prediction data publically due to limited conjunction screening and reporting capacity.

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SIA: Act Now on Space Traffic Management, Sustainability

Distribution of space debris around Earth (Credit: ESA)

Satellite Industry Association says tens of thousands of satellites aren’t going to manage themselves

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 24, 2020 (SIA PR) – The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today announced the release of a number of recommendations addressing the issue of space traffic management, with the goal of supporting a long-term sustainable and safe space environment for commercial satellites and spacecraft. 

The recommendations were included in a SIA White Paper titled “The Future of Space and Space Traffic Coordination and Management (STCM)”.   The White Paper shares SIA and its members’ views and recommendations regarding the creation of a modern STCM regime, capable of supporting long term space sustainability and continued innovation and U.S. space leadership.

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