WASHINGTON — U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom) and the French Ministry of Defense have signed an accord that will facilitate the sharing of space situational awareness (SSA) data between the two countries, Stratcom announced Jan. 27.

The Jan. 21 accord, which had been expected, will enable Stratcom to provide data from the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., directly to the French military upon request. Previously, such requests had to be approved at higher levels of the U.S. government. 

The SSA data sharing accord is Stratcom’s fifth since it was granted the authority to negotiate such agreements by the White House. Stratcom has similar deals with Italy, Japan, Australia and, most recently, Canada.

SSA data refers to information about the size, location and orbital path of objects circling Earth. Such information is used for things like launch support, satellite maneuver planning and collision avoidance, and on-orbit anomaly resolution.

“I am pleased to add this data sharing agreement with France to our growing list of partners in space,” U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of Stratcom, said in a prepared statement. “It will provide for greater space flight safety and enhances our national security.” 

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Warren Ferster is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews and is responsible for all the news and editorial coverage in the weekly newspaper, the spacenews.com Web site and variety of specialty publications such as show dailies. He manages a staff of seven reporters...