SDA, U.S. Strategic Command Sign Cooperative Accord

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PONTE VEDRA, Florida — The Space Data Association (SDA), a cooperative of commercial satellite fleet operators pooling resources to improve space traffic management and mitigate interference, on Aug. 8 said it had signed a long-awaited collaboration agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense.

The agreement, with the U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom), will bring SDA into Stratcom’s Space Situational Awareness Data Sharing Program, federating both organizations’ efforts to deal with radio frequency or electromagnetic interference.

Based in Britain’s Isle of Man, SDA was created by several of the world’s largest commercial fleet operators, including Intelsat of Luxembourg and Washington, SES of Luxembourg, Eutelsat of Paris and Inmarsat of London. SDA members pool data on their satellites’ precise locations, notify them of pending in-orbit maneuvers and assist each other when one experiences interference.

The SDA, whose members are often direct business competitors, agrees to keep the information confidential.

One challenge for the SDA has been to persuade emerging-market fleet operators in Russia, India, China and elsewhere to join the association to better manage the increasingly populated geostationary arc 36,000 kilometers over the equator.

“The agreement demonstrates that even the most advanced government space operators recognize SDA’s ability to provide important and valuable services to manage operational risk, including performing conjunction assessments and activities to mitigate electromagnetic interference (EMI),” SDA Chairman Ron Busch said in an Aug. 8 statement. “SDA will continue to collaborate with and seek participation by other governmental, commercial, and intergovernmental stakeholders as we promote safe and responsible operations and preservation of the space environment,” Busch said.