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Five European Countries Sign Space Surveillance and Tracking Agreement

By | June 17, 2015
      space debris SSA

      Artist’s impression of the debris objects in orbit around Earth. Credit: ESA.

      [Via Satellite 06-17-2015] Space agencies and technology centers from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom have all signed a Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) consortium agreement to provide a European Union (EU)-wide SST framework. The consortium will exploit existing national infrastructures and sensors to provide a service to monitor and track space objects and debris; support and help spacecraft operators and users by providing a service for collision avoidance; create surveys for fragmentation detection; and monitor uncontrolled re-entry of space objects into Earth’s atmosphere. The European-led initiative is expected to provide more autonomy for the EU, which relies extensively on information provided by the U.S.

      The five EU member states will cooperate with the European Union Satellite Center (SATCEN) to implement the provision of the SST services. Inside the member states, the national space agencies will collaborate closely with their ministries of defense since both have a vested interest in monitoring the space environment. The European Commission has foreseen some budget in the period 2015-2020 for space surveillance and tracking services, upgrading of the existing European infrastructure and sensors, as well as the development of new assets.