COLORADO SPRINGS – The U.S. Office of Space Commerce is eager to work with other nations to establish a global, coordinated space situational awareness (SSA) system.

As the Office of Space Commerce takes over responsibility for sharing civil and commercial SSA from the U.S. Department of Defense, it’s clear “the U.S. alone can’t solve these problems,” Richard DalBello, Office of Space Commerce director, said at the 39th Space Symposium here. “These problems are bigger than our borders because we are all operating in international space.”

In the future, the office envisions “a global, coordinated system of SSA providers, with a series of regional hubs providing SSA information and services to spacecraft operators,” according to Global Space Situational Awareness Coordination, a document distributed at the Symposium. “These centers will be supported by networks of international partnerships, and their services will be augmented by a robust global commercial SSA sector.”

An internationally coordinated system “will be necessary to minimize the potential for spacecraft operators to receive conflicting information about potential conjunction events,” the document said. Coordination also lays the foundation for future space traffic coordination “efforts, which require that spacecraft operators have consistent information on the likelihood and nature of potential conjunctions, allowing for a safe and efficient adjudication of the issue.”

Traffic Coordination

The Office of Space Commerce, located within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is merging government and commercial SSA observations in the Traffic Coordination System for Space.

“TraCSS will provide SSA information and services to civil and private spacecraft operators around the world in support of spaceflight safety and sustainability,” according to the Office of Space Commerce document. “To be successful, this system must be developed in close coordination with other nations.”

One challenge for TraCSS is comparing observations made by various organizations.

Satellite “operators are not uniform in their competence,” DalBello said. “You have skilled international satellite operators, and you have young companies who may or may not know where their stuff is on any given day.”

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...