Space Traffic and The Growing Space Surveillance Mission

Posted: July 8, 2009 in Air Force Space Command, conjunction assessments, space fence, Space Surveillance

Air Force Space Command is responding to the on-orbit collision of a dead but still orbiting Russian Cosmos satellite and a functional Iridium satellite back in February 2009. The response includes plussing-up the number of operators working conjunction analysis from five to nine. Eventually AFSPC is looking at a 24-person staff to perform this mission which as currently envisioned, will support collision analysis of 800 maneuverable satellites. At the time of the collision, only about 140 satellites were being monitored for possible collisions.

Enhanced space surveillance will also involve hardware: more servers and computational power, of course, but also the new $1B Space Fence, which is planned to be employed in 2015 and the near-term Space-Based Space Surveillance satellite, which is to surveil each satellite residing in the geosynchronous belt once a day.

The Cosmos-Iridium event was indicative of Space Command’s less-capable-than-desired space surveillance and conjunction analysis capabilities. According to Lt Gen Larry James, AFSPC wants to eventually be able and track everything in space from launch to deorbit. All it takes is time and money
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