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Commerce Department Unveils Prototype System for Tracking Debris, Managing Traffic in Space

Open architecture data


Commerce Department Unveils Prototype System for Tracking Debris, Managing Traffic in Space

The Department of Commerce has released a prototype of a cloud-based system intended to track satellites and debris in space.

Called the Open Architecture Data Repository, Commerce’s system is also designed to enable basic space situational awareness and traffic management. OADR is expected to eventually replace the space catalog currently maintained by the U.S. Space Command, SpaceNews reported.

OADR would collect data that can be used to calculate the probability of collisions among objects in orbit. SPACECOM Commander Gen. James Dickinson has raised concerns over the increasing number of satellites orbiting the Earth, highlighting potential safety problems and access restrictions in space.

While the general acknowledged the benefits of commercial satellites, he said that the proliferation of mega-constellations could complicate access to the warfighting domain.

Officials at Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration echoed Dickinson’s concerns about the debris generated by large numbers of satellite launches.

Steve Volz, assistant administrator of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service, said the agency is concerned with the “tens of thousands of inert debris objects and a future that may be dominated by active satellites.” Volz added that NOAA expects 57,000 additional satellites to enter orbit by 2030.

The Commerce Department began working on OADR in 2018 as part of the Trump administration’s effort to establish a civilian organization in charge of managing space traffic.

Volz said that the military will transfer its space traffic management responsibilities to the Commerce Department in 2024, when OADR’s technology becomes mature enough for use in real operations.

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Category: Digital Modernization

Tags: cloud Department of Commerce digital modernization James Dickinson NOAA satellite situational awareness space traffic management SpaceNews Steve Volz