Providing Civil Space Situational Awareness

May, 2017
IDA document: D-8485
FFRDC: Science and Technology Policy Institute
Type: Research Summary/Research Insights , Documents , Space
In recent years, the number of objects in space has grown dramatically as a result of increasing numbers of active satellites and orbital space debris, and the problem is expected to get worse. As a result, space situational awareness (SSA)—knowing where space objects are, communicating that information to stakeholders, and developing regimes for ensuring safety of space flight—is more crucial now than it has been in the recent past. The Department of Defense (DoD) Joint Space Operations Command (JSpOC) currently provides SSA services to the global space community, but changes to the system are being sought to improve services. At the same time, DoD is under pressure to address growing space-based threats to national security. Concerned about the possibility of overextending across conflicting missions in a fiscally constrained environment, some DoD officials have publicly noted a desire to move non-national security-related SSA services out of DoD’s purview.