10:36 AM

USRA and GWU Host the 2017 Annual Symposium

Space Situational Awareness Symposium

Organized by the Universities Space Research Association and the Space Policy Institute, the Symposium on Space Situational Awareness (SSA) was held on March 30, 2017 in Washington DC. A "Who's Who" of aerospace industry and military leaders working on SSA focused on:

  • Global security challenges as the vastness of space becomes more cluttered, competitive and contentious
  • Technological innovations, economic opportunities and risks facing civilian and commercial space transportation
  • Strategies for aligning U.S. space policy across the civil, commercial and national defense sectors.

Major General Robert Teague, Director, Space Programs, Office of Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, delivered the Fredrick A. Tarantino address delineating the importance of maintaining security in space. The General discussed Dr. Tarantino’s commitment to pushing forward the art of the possible in Space Situational Awareness and challenged conference participants to take a leadership role ensuring this happens.

Speakers from DARPA and the Air Force Research Laboratory articulated that the assumptions of a benign and uncontested space domain are no longer valid. Adversaries understand the asymmetric advantage Space capabilities provide the national security space community and want to replicate or negate the US capabilities.

In 2015, a collaboration between the USAF and the NRO created the Space Enterprise Vision, a blueprint for the actions needed to transition the national security space enterprise into a force capable of fighting through a conflict that extends into Space while continuing to provide critical space effects in a multi-domain conflict. The Air Force is well positioned now and with planned investments and development, into the future, to provide the Department with quality Space Situational Awareness including but not limited to space weather events, debris and collision warnings and to detect adversary actions. They have also developed innovative technology to monitor actions in space and which can ensure peaceful use of space. The DARPA vision for Robust Space includes real-time detection, tracking, and attribution and real-time indication and warning, command and control. Likewise, NASA discussed technologies they have developed to manage on-orbit collision risk.

The speakers also advocated that the commercial space industry, particularly organizations such as Exoanalytics, The Center for Space Standards and Innovation at Analytical Graphics, The Secure World Foundation and others must play a role in developing standards and best practices in areas such as limiting debris, satellite servicing, and tracking of small satellites.

For continued success in this arena, civil and military agencies and academia and industry all need to work together now to enhance the safety of space operations and preserve the space environment. The consensus of the speakers was Space is too vast and too complicated to be managed by one agency and consequently joint programs focusing on all aspects of space need to be established with a solid integration of civil, military and industry and academic participants.