Kayhan Space Pathfinder 2.0 is designed to help operators make maneuver decisions while coordinating with other satellite operators. Credit: Kayhan Space

WASHINGTON – Kayhan Space has upgraded its space traffic management platform to help satellite operators coordinate collision avoidance.

In contrast to Kayhan’s Pathfinder 1.0, which assesses conjunction risk and recommends maneuvers for individual constellations, Pathfinder 2.0 is designed to help satellite operators avoid one another.

“Operators can set preferences for how and when they want to maneuver based on their own operating constraints,” Matthew Shouppe, Kayhan’s new chief commercial officer, told SpaceNews. “Our system will allow them to pre-coordinate their preferences, before the event even happens.”

To bring as many operators as possible onto its platform, Kayhan offers a free product called Essentials. Eighteen to 20 customers flying roughly 500 satellites have signed up for Kayhan’s free and paid products, said Araz Feyzi, Kayhan co-founder and chief technology officer.

Increasing Automation

In 2022, launch vehicle providers sent nearly 2,500 payloads to orbit, compared with 1,829 in 2021, according to data compiled by astrophysicist and spaceflight analyst Jonathan McDowell. 

As constellations grow, companies are turning increasingly to automated, rather than manual, operations.

If two satellites conduct autonomous maneuvers without communicating, they risk increasing the odds of a collision by maneuvering into each other. NASA and SpaceX are investigating the issue through the coordination of SpaceX Starlink and NASA’s Starling satellite swarm demonstration.

In the past, satellite operators notified of conjunctions by the U.S. Air Force attempted to contact each other via phone and email. Kayhan’s Coordinated Optimal Avoidance Maneuvers approaches the problem through the online platform, Shouppe said.

While collision avoidance can be automated by Pathfinder 2.0, satellite operators can opt to manually override the recommendations.

Historical Record

Pathfinder 2.0 also provides a historical record.

“Our system will have a record of the interactions between the two operators,” Shouppe said. If the Federal Communications Commission, for example, has a question about how parties reacted to a conjunction warning, “we can pull up the record,” he added.  

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...