Experts Say Urgent Action Required on Space Safety as Number of Satellites Soars and Orbital Debris Proliferates

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Urgent action is needed to ensure that Earth orbit continues to be a safe place in which to operate. And industry must take the lead because governments are moving far too slowly to address an increasingly serious problem.

That was the consensus of the panel of experts that debated the issue during last week’s Space Tech Expo. They expressed concerns about the growing number of large satellite constellations and the enormous amount of dangerous debris already in orbit.

Josef Koller, co-founder of the Space Safety Institute, said space is now a fully international arena no longer dominated by a handful of international nations. The figures laid out by Koller and his fellow panelists demonstrated how much more crowded Earth orbit has become:

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COMSPOC and ThothX Announce Partnership to Deliver First Commercial Radar with Coverage Over Asia

Credit: COMSPOC

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 7, 2022 (COMSPOC PR) — COMSPOC and ThothX announced today a partnership to bring the first commercial geosynchronous radar to the Asia-Pacific region to expand space traffic management (STM) and space domain awareness (SDA) services.

This new deep space radar system will transform the Carnavon satellite dish in Western Australia to leverage COMSPOC’s global network of optical telescopes and partner-owned sensors that feed its world-leading SDA software solution. ThothX brings a deep space radar capability that is unique in the commercial sector, combining  hardware, radio frequency, and software that can process data in real time.

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SES Partners with NorthStar Earth & Space to Tackle Space Sustainability Challenges

Collaboration will improve Space Situational Awareness and promote best practices in all near-Earth orbits for SES and its partners

Luxembourg, 31 March 2022 (SES PR) – A partnership to enhance Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and ensure a sustainable use of space has been formed between SES, the world’s leading satellite-based content connectivity solutions provider, and NorthStar Earth and Space (NorthStar), the first commercial service to monitor space from space, both companies announced today.  

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SCOUT Successfully Completes Bridge Round, Led by Decisive Point

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 17, 2022 (SCOUT PR) — SCOUT Inc., a space tech startup developing next-generation space traffic management and autonomous proximity operations services, announced today they have successfully closed a bridge round which will enable significant growth of their capabilities in 2022. Decisive Point, a venture capital firm that invests in dual-use technology startups, led the round with follow-on participation from the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation and Geospatial Alpha.

This funding round strategically positions SCOUT to better capitalize on opportunities in early 2022 and hit key milestones, including SCOUT-Vision production readiness and the launch of SCOUT’s first OVER-Sat mission in 2023. SCOUT is looking forward to connecting with more investors on the next fundraising Seed round, which opened earlier this month.

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European Union Moves Forward on $6.8 Billion Secure Comsat Constellation and Space Traffic Management Plan

BRUSSELS, Belgium, 15 February 2022 (European Commission PR) — Today, the EU is acting on its space ambitions by tabling two initiatives – a proposal for a Regulation on a space-based secure connectivity and a Joint Communication on an EU approach on Space Traffic Management (STM). Space technology is essential for facilitating our daily lives, contributing to a more digital, green and resilient future for our planet. As a major space power, the EU’s Space Programme already provides valuable data and services for a wide array of daily applications from transport, agriculture, and crisis response to the fight against climate change, to name a few.

However, due to new challenges and increased international competition, the EU’s space policy needs to constantly evolve and adapt if we want to continue enjoying freely the benefits that space brings. Today’s initiatives will help safeguard the efficiency and security of our current assets while developing European cutting-edge space technology to the benefit of our citizens and economy.

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Decisions From Europe’s 2022 Space Summit

TOULOUSE, France, 16 February 2022 (ESA PR) — European leaders today confirmed their ambitious plans to work closely together to accelerate Europe as a world leader in space during a series of high-level meetings held in Toulouse, France.

Under the plans, ESA, the EU and their member States are uniting to ensure that Europe fully realises the enormous untapped potential for space to tackle the urgent and unprecedented societal, economic and security challenges it faces.

The French Presidency of the European Space Agency and the European Union chaired the meetings, reflecting the close and growing cooperation between the EU and ESA.

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EU Commissioner Breton Calls for Europe to Boost Competitiveness & Security in Space

Thierry Breton (Credit: European Parliament from EU – Hearing of Commissioner-designate Thierry Breton, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84550660)

Speech by EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton at the 14th EU Space Conference

“Check against delivery”

Dear Ministers and Member State representatives,
Chère Sophie Wilmès,
Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
Dear friends from the space sector,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to open this European Space Conference. It is good to see you all in this room this morning.

Europe is a space power. It has the necessary expertise, industrial capacity, start-ups and assets to weigh in on the global stage. But there is no time for complacency.

The space sector is undergoing a massive transformation. 

On the one hand, the booming of private operators changes the business model of space, combining both large and small industry, space and digital ecosystems. This is a major opportunity for Europe. We need to unleash this potential.

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European Space Summit Seeks to Boost Competitiveness, Protect Environment & Launch Independent Human Spaceflight Program

Credit: ESA

PARIS (ESA PR) — European leaders will reaffirm plans to launch Europe on a world-leading trajectory during a high-level space summit to be held on 16 February in Toulouse, France.

Urgent action is needed to tackle the unprecedented societal, economic and security challenges faced by Europe – from the climate crisis and its consequences to threats to crucial infrastructure in space and on Earth.

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Luxembourg Invests in NorthStar Earth & Space That Establishes its European Headquarters in Grand Duchy to Support Sustainable Space Activities

LUXEMBOURG, DECEMBER 17, 2021 (NorthStar Earth & Space PR) – The Luxembourg Future Fund (LFF) will be investing in NorthStar Earth & Space. The investment is building on the announcement made in December 2019 of a partnership between Luxembourg’s Ministry of the Economy and the Canadian-based company.

For nearly four decades, Luxembourg has been at the forefront of commercial and co-operative initiatives that have shaped a vibrant space economy by attracting ground-breaking companies in this sector. NorthStar is the first commercial service aiming at monitoring space, from space, via a constellation of satellites with dedicated optical sensors to deliver timely and precise Space Traffic Data, Collision Avoidance and Navigation Services. Monitoring of space objects has, so far, mainly been done using ground-based data. This method gives information on the distribution of space objects but has limitations when it comes to small objects, which can also cause serious damages due to their velocity.

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Biden Administration Publishes Space Priorites Framework

Taken by NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, this picture shows Earth’s limb, or horizon, from the International Space Station as it orbits above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile. (Credits: NASA)

UNITED STATES SPACE PRIORITIES FRAMEWORK
The White House
December 2021

UNITED STATES SPACE PRIORITIES FRAMEWORK

Space activities are essential to our way of life. They advance our understanding of the Earth, the universe, and humanity; enable U.S. national security; create good jobs and economic opportunity; enhance our health and well-being; and inspire us to pursue our dreams. Space capabilities provide critical data, products, and services that drive innovation in the United States and around the world. Access to and use of space is a vital national interest.

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European Union Commissioner, Secure World Foundation Condemn Russian ASAT Test

Thierry Breton
European Union Commissioner for Internal Market

As the European Union Commissioner in charge of EU Space policy and in particular of Galileo & Copernicus, I join the strongest condemnations expressed against the test conducted by Russia on Monday 15 Nov., which led to the destruction of a satellite in low orbit (COSMOS 1408).

This anti-satellite weapon test has caused the generation of a significant amount of debris of a size that could endanger the European Union’s space activities as well as those of our Member States.

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LeoLabs Commits to Australia as Strategic Site for Next Space Radar

Costa Rica radar (Credit: LeoLabs)

Critical Asia Pacific Location Enhances Timeliness and Coverage in the Southern Hemisphere

MENLO PARK, Calif., October 19, 2021 (LeoLabs PR) — LeoLabs, Inc., the world’s leading commercial provider of Space Domain Awareness (SDA) and Space Traffic Management (STM) services for low Earth Orbit, today announced Australia as the site for its next space radar. The West Australian Space Radar represents a critical addition to LeoLabs growing global constellation of S-band, phased-array sensors. When completed in 2022, it will expand LeoLabs’ total number of radar sites to six, and total number of space radars to ten.

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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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