Collaborative Commercial Space Situational Awareness with ESpOC-Empowered Telescopes

14th Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference

David Sibert, T.S. Kelso, Bill Therien, Doug Hendrix, Clint Clark, Mark Jeffries, and Robert A. Hall, "Collaborative Commercial Space Situational Awareness with ESpOC-Empowered Telescopes," presented at the 14th Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, Maui, HI, 2013 September 11–13 (poster).


This paper will demonstrate that by leveraging advanced photometric processing algorithms developed for the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) mission, ExoAnalytic and AGI have proven the capability to provide actionable SSA intelligence for satellite operators from small telescopes in less than optimal viewing conditions. Space has become an increasingly cluttered environment requiring satellite operators to remain forever vigilant in order to prevent collisions with their assets and prevent further cluttering of the space environment. The Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), which tracks all objects in earth orbit, reports possible upcoming conjunctions to operators by providing Conjunction Summary Messages (CSMs). However due to large positional uncertainties in the propagated position of space objects at the time closest approach, the volume of CSMs is excessive to the point that maneuvers in response to CSMs without additional screening is cost prohibitive. CSSI and the Space Data Center have been able to screen most CSMs by using more accurate operator ephemeris. By screening with operator ephemeris alone they have been able to demonstrate that safety limits will not be exceeded in a good number of these close encounters and that extra delta-V need to not be expended in performing a Collision Avoidance (COLA) maneuver. However there remains a decent portion of alerts that may warrant action especially when the secondary object is an uncontrolled space object without accurate ephemeris data such as a dead satellite or rocket body. By dynamically tasking the ExoAnalytic Space Operations Center (ESpOC) observatories to provide real-time tracking and photometric characterization of the secondary objects in response to these CSMs satellite operators stand to benefit significantly from an additional method of conjunction screening. The refined tracks and conjunction assessments obtained by ESpOC screening allows operators to safely reduce the number of COLAs performed in response to safe close approaches and provide optimized COLA maneuver planning in response to validated threats.

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