- The Department of Defense has been tracking objects orbiting above Earth, but as commercial activity has grown, space traffic monitoring is now shifting to the Department of Commerce.
- SAIC is bolstering space domain awareness for national security and civilian government missions by teaming up with LeoLabs, a commercial space traffic management services provider with data and technology capabilities.
- SAIC and LeoLabs plan to develop a data platform that will ingest, manage and disseminate government and commercial data on space objects to give government users enhanced planning and orbit-maneuvering capabilities.
LISTEN TO THIS BLOG:
Space domain awareness (SDA), the monitoring and analysis of activities in space, is a complex and exceedingly critical challenge. According to the United Nations, 2,163 objects were launched into space in 2022 compared with just 120 back in 2010. As of 2022, the number of objects in low Earth orbit exceeded 21,000.
With an increasing number of new entities operating in space, including commercial companies and emerging national agencies, orbits above Earth are becoming crowded and hazardous due to the sheer volume of traffic and debris. The Department of Defense has been tracking space objects and sharing information on space-track.org. Through this publicly accessible portal, the U.S. Space Force provides information for the safe navigation of space, but increased attention is needed as launches become more frequent and orbits become more crowded.
To better secure space, Space Force aims to concentrate on SDA and move away from the tracking and conjunction assessment of objects in space, especially as the majority of objects in orbit are increasingly commercially owned and operated. SDA goes beyond collision avoidance to give decision-makers a more comprehensive understanding of what is happening in the entire space domain and potential threats posed by space objects. The Department of Commerce has been given the task of tracking and communicating what is in orbit and where it is going — a critical service.
Tackling the challenge of space situational awareness demands speed, coverage and accuracy. Federal decision-makers are increasingly clamoring for commercial innovation to accelerate government missions.
SAIC and LeoLabs intend to create an integrated SDA data layer
SAIC and LeoLabs have entered into a memorandum of understanding to build a prototype space-tracking data platform that can answer the call for commercial capability to serve rigorous government needs. LeoLabs is a commercial provider of space traffic management services and data focused on low Earth orbit. It operates a global network of space-monitoring radars and helps satellite operators, commercial enterprises and federal agencies across the world launch and track missions in low Earth orbit.
Combining data from space-track.org and conjunction data messages (CDMs) from LeoLabs, we will leverage our Koverse data management platform and our encrypted query analytics and data retrieval, or EQADR, tool to enhance the government’s visibility of low Earth orbit. CDMs communicate details like when objects may collide and the probability of it happening.
To support space mission owners, SAIC is providing the EQADR data platform and Koverse to enable granular data access control. That means users see only what they need to see, with the platform logically separating out non-pertinent data which may also be sensitive, as classification levels must be enforced and commercial proprietary data must be protected.
Koverse's multi-level security controls allow access to low-side and high-side information in a secure way. SAIC's relationship with LeoLabs allows the commercial company to adapt its services to the government's unique use cases and data security requirements without sacrificing the viability of those services.
SAIC and LeoLabs are building a data layer that can manage large volumes of data from diverse data sources. This would enable a wider field of people to access conjunction data and enhance their real-time maneuver planning. Additionally, data tagging would benefit traceability and access management.
“In addition to the Department of Commerce and the DOD, NASA could benefit from an integrated data layer,” said David Ray, SAIC senior vice president for space. “The partnership with LeoLabs offers many opportunities for space exploration, space domain awareness and even combined joint all-domain command and control (CJADC2).”
“The key to space safety and security is transparency and awareness,” said Dan Ceperley, LeoLabs CEO and co-founder. “LeoLabs is proud to partner with SAIC to provide a greater level of awareness for government agencies into space activities with continuous, reliable conjunction data and insights.”
Learn more about how we support customers with solutions and capabilities for the space domain at SAIC's Space page.