U.S.-Australia Agreement Promotes Space Situational Awareness
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb., April 24, 2013 A new agreement made between the United States and Australia represents the first in what U.S. Strategic Command’s commander hopes will be many that promote transparency in the space domain.
Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler signed the agreement on behalf of the United States, short-cutting the process for the Australian government to request data through Stratcom’s Space Situational Awareness Sharing Agreement Program.
The agreement represents another step in the November 2010 pact between the two countries to cooperate on space situational awareness activities.
It streamlines the process for the Australians to make specific requests about space data gathered by Stratcom’s Joint Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. This information, which includes locations of some 23,000 man-made objects in space, is critical in planning launches into the increasingly crowded space domain.
“Many nations share the space domain, and it is in our best interest to create an environment where the sharing of [space situational awareness] data facilitates transparency and improves flight safety,” Kehler said.
The new U.S.-Australian agreement paves the way for similar ones between the United States and its closest allies and partners, and is modeled on commercial agreements Stratcom has forged with commercial companies over the past three years.
Space situational awareness exchanges will assist partners with activities such as launch support, maneuver planning, support for on-orbit anomaly resolution, electromagnetic interference reporting and investigation, support for launch anomalies and de-commissioning activities, and on-orbit conjunction assessments, officials noted.
President Barack Obama’s National Space Policy and the National Security Space Strategy promoted this concept in 2010 and 2011, respectively, noted Air Force Col. Lina Cashin, Stratcom’s division chief for space, cyber and deterrence policy and security cooperation.