Space situational awareness (SSA) is an essential and integral piece of space operations. Although the U.S. military's Space Surveillance Network (SSN) is currently the single best source of SSA in the world, it does not provide the level of SSA currently needed to support space operations. The lack of geographical sensor distribution and coverage outside of the continental U.S., particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, is a significant limitation of the SSN. There exist a large number of individual sensors across the globe and smaller sensor networks which already provide some level of SSA data to various users, and could also provide data to support the U.S. need for SSA. These sensors are being developed for a variety of missions, including space surveillance, missile warning, missile defense and testing, and scientific applications.
This paper summarizes the work currently underway as a joint project by the Secure World Foundation and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), University of Maryland, to document these global sensors including networks from Europe, Russia, and China. This information will be collated in a publicly-accessible database which will serve as the foundation for future analyses to assess the utility of these sensors as complements to the existing plans by the U.S. military to acquire new sensors to enhance SSA. It is also part of a broader project which includes development of an open source software suite for SSA analysis.
Author(s): Theresa Hitchens