ORLANDO, Fla. — U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom) entered a “discovery period” around the first of the year to talk with U.S. allies and develop concepts for a combined space operations center, according to the Stratcom commander.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler cautioned that no formal agreements have been reached but said Stratcom is looking to build upon existing relationships with allies in the space arena.

Currently U.S. space operations are managed by the Air Force-led Joint Space Operations Center, which is responsible for activities including launch support and space traffic management. The value of combined operations has been demonstrated in every other domain of military activity, Kehler said.

“Obviously, there is a fairly significant difference in the magnitude in what capabilities can be brought to the table by our potential partners,” Kehler told reporters Feb. 23 during an Air Force Association conference in Orlando, Fla. “However, each of our allies has some amount of capability.”

Kehler was given limited authority to negotiate space situational awareness arrangements with allies in November. Previously that authority resided with the U.S. secretary of defense.

The Stratcom commander would first negotiate with a specific country before requesting authority from the U.S. State and Defense departments to formally conclude an agreement.

The U.S. National Space Security Strategy, which was released in January 2011, calls for increased partnership with other nations.

Stratcom officials will work with allies to arrange activities including launch support, maneuver planning, on-orbit anomaly resolution, electromagnetic interference reporting and on-orbit conjunction assessments.