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Space Situational Awareness Satellites

Ground Components


2016 – Russia: SSA – Snapshot

The Russian Space Surveillance System (RSSS) consists of a network of ground-based radars and optical telescopes, operated by the Russian Defense Ministry’s Space Control Center (TSKKP), which is responsible for the nation’s space situational awareness (SSA). The RSSS sensors give the nation the ability to…

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2016 – European Commercial Space Surveillance – Snapshot

During 2016, European companies noted and seized opportunities within the business of space situational awareness (SSA). Europe’s continued growing dependence on services provided by an orbiting space infrastructure and desire for high-resolution European-based SSA data are presenting openings for…

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2016 – ESA: SSA – Snapshot

As more European-made satellites are launched into Earth’s orbit, more Europeans are realizing the importance of space traffic management (STM) and space situational awareness (SSA). The European Space Agency (ESA) continued to fund its own SSA program through 2016, which involves…

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2016 – U.S. Commercial Space Surveillance – Snapshot

With increased demands for space traffic management (STM) and space situational awareness (SSA), commercial companies, such as Schafer Corporation, formed businesses during 2016 to meet the demand. These commercial STM and SSA providers are building their own space object catalogs and using commercial sensor networks to…

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Ground Components

The United States currently operates the most capable SSA system, the Space Surveillance Network (SSN). The SSN is composed of stations based around the globe that use a combination of radar and optical information to track objects in orbit. The system has impressive abilities; it is able to detect objects the size of a basketball at an altitude of ## kilometers (## miles), and smaller objects closer to Earth.

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2015 – European Commercial Space Surveillance – Snapshot

Collision avoidance is gaining the attention of commercial satellite operators as the Earth’s orbits continue to become more congested. A non-profit association of satellite operators from the Isle of Man, the Space Data Association, offers conjunction assessment services to its members. The automated space situational awareness system, operated under contract by AGI, came fully online in 2011 and is intended to aid space operators by alerting them about possible on-orbit collisions and radio frequency interference.

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2015 – France: SSA – Snapshot

SSA operations in France are shared by the French Air Force and the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES). The missions for French SSA activities are similar to U.S. military efforts, attempting to catalog all low Earth orbiting objects for collision and launch avoidance. The French do use U.S. SSA-provided data, but they augment the data with data from their own systems.

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2015 – ESA: SSA – Snapshot

The European Space Agency is funding its own SSA program, mandated in 2008, launched in 2009, and funded through 2016. Europe’s increasing dependence on space-based services and infrastructure was a key factor in developing alternatives to non-European SSA sources. ESA’s SSA activities involve more than observing and tracking Earth orbiting objects.

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2015 – Russia: SSA – Snapshot

Russian SSA efforts are operated by the military, as is the case in the United States. Russia’s Space Control Center (TSKKP) falls within the Defense Ministry’s Main Space Intelligence Center. The focus of the TSKKP is to find, track, and identify objects orbiting the Earth. This allows the TSKKP to analyze the intent of satellites from foreign nations as well as determine whether objects in space pose an immediate threat to Russian space assets.

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