Kevin O'Connell
Kevin O'Connell, director of the Office of Space Commerce, said the "silver lining" from the near-miss of two defunct satellites may be more awareness of the importance of space traffic management. Credit: SpaceNews/Jeff Foust

WASHINGTON — Kayhan Space, a startup focused on space situational awareness and collision avoidance technologies, announced Aug. 17 that Kevin O’Connell has joined its board of advisors.

O’Connell is the former director of the Office of Space Commerce at the U.S. Department of Commerce and is now a private consultant.

Kayhan Space, a small business that has won Defense Department research contracts,  developed an autonomous collision avoidance system for satellite operators.

O’Connell will “help lead us through our next stage of growth,” said Siamak Hesar, Kayhan Space co-founder and CEO.

As head of the Office of Space Commerce,  O’Connell led the Commerce Department’s efforts to take over civil space traffic management functions currently under the Department of Defense. The Trump administration in 2018 issued Space Policy Directive 3 giving the Department of Commerce to space traffic management responsibilities, including the issuance of satellite collision warnings to operators.

Kayhan Space said its autonomous system will facilitate coordination between space traffic data providers and help minimize delays and errors in the response to conjunctions.

“Improved awareness of the space environment and new tools like autonomy will be key to ensuring that space remains safe and sustainable for the anticipated scientific and commercial benefits of the space economy,” O’Connell said in a statement.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...