Safety in Space Situational Awareness
A recent article in Space News reported that 70 percent of geostationary orbiting objects are “garbage,” and that half of the 1,369 objects in geostationary orbit are in an uncontrolled drift.
Add in the highly publicized 2009 collision between an Iridium satellite and a spent Russian satellite, which resulted in total destruction of both, and the 2010 destruction of a dysfunctional satellite by a Chinese missile, and it is apparent that space is not always a safe place.
Boeing’s Space Based Space Surveillance System (SBSS) is a primary node in the Air Force’s Space Surveillance Network and represents the next generation of space situational awareness. During its first year, using SBSS, detection and identification of space threats has been significantly increased by at least twofold.
As space becomes an increasingly contested environment, the importance of identifying and reporting potential threats in hours, not days, could make a difference to any owner/operator in the geosynchronous belt.
Given our dependence on space-based assets, space situational awareness must become a priority, because space debris is not the only threat out there.