EU Aims For Space Situational Awareness Network

By Amy Svitak
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

“We are now working on the definition and realization of SIS, which will be included in the SCCOA procurement system,” he says. Graves, air force Satam and naval radar, Fedome and Oscegeane will be combined under SIS, which he says will automate what is today a largely manual operation.

In the meantime, the German Space Situational Awareness Center (GSSAC) in Uedem, Germany, is working to formalize its relationship with the German Fraunhofer research institute, which owns and operates the TIRA radar.

Since its inception in 2009, the GSSAC has grown from a handful of military personnel to a civil-military operation staffed by more than 20. Col. Olaf Holzhauer, former GSSAC director who is now the senior officer for space situational awareness at the German Air Operations Command's new operations center, says the GSSAC is in an initial operational phase, with the goal of becoming fully operational by 2020. In the near term, he says the center aims to formalize its relationship with Fraunhofer to support continued cooperation with France, the U.S. and other nations.

“We are thinking to develop this cooperation into a service agreement between both entities, so that Fraunhofer would provide to us analysis of TIRA data on the space situation and we would give our assessment based on this information to our partners,” Holzhauer says.

Eventually, the Franco-German space surveillance collaboration would be expanded to form the nucleus of a European space situational awareness network, including space weather, near-Earth-object detection and the SST system proposed by the EC.

The European Space Agency (ESA) took a first stab at such an effort in recent years and was able to establish programs focused on space weather and near-Earth-object detection. But ESA failed to build consensus among its 20 member states to fund a dual-use SST network based on Graves, TIRA and other national assets used for both civil and military operations.

“You have to think about how this would be organized and who provides what products to whom, and then you get into the very sensitive questions of data policy and governance,” Holzhauer says. “But the idea is to be a starting point for a coordinated space situational awareness activity on the European level.”

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