[Via Satellite 07-20-2015] In an effort to include greater industry input in day-to-day operations, the United States Strategic Command’s (U.S. Stratcom) Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC Space) has kicked off the six month Commercial Integration Cell (CIC) experiment. The CIC is comprised of six satellite operators — Intelsat, SES Government Solutions, Inmarsat, Eutelsat, DigitalGlobe and Iridium — that are sharing a greater level of information with the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) for improved Space Situational Awareness (SSA). As the first of its kind, the CIC started its six-month run time on June 1 with liaison personnel from the commercial sector integrated directly into the JSpOC.
“Consistent with U.S. National Security Space Strategy and U.S. Stratcom’s priority to build enduring relationships with partner organizations to confront the broad range of global challenges, JFCC Space has actively pursued increasingly robust partnerships within the academic and commercial sectors,” U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Brian Brown, deputy commander at JFCC Space, told Via Satellite. “The CIC pilot is the next step in our ongoing efforts to partner with like-minded space-faring entities to promote the peaceful and responsible use of space.”
The inspiration for the CIC came from the September 2014 Schriever War Game, where Lt. Gen. Raymond, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) and JFCC Space commander, had access to a commercial integration cell within the exercise operations center. Brown said the options provided through commercial means boosted efficiencies and fidelity across the entire Space Domain Awareness (SDA) enterprise. When JFCC Space later hosted its semiannual Commercial Operator Talks (COT) the idea for a longer CIC experiment was born.
“Initially the focus will be improving information exchange related to space situational awareness, interference events, indications and warning and contingency operations,” Brown explained. “This will involve establishing improved communications across various classification levels between the [United States government] USG and commercial operators. The commercial operators will also be integrated into relevant exercises and training events to improve operations when applicable.”
JFCC Space will assess the value of the CIC at the conclusion of the study. Brown said the rapid evolution of the space environment is the agency’s most significant strategic issue at the moment, with SmallSats — something JSpOC has expressed alarm about before — as a top concern.
“A significant issue we are facing is the explosive growth in CubeSats. Last year alone over 100 CubeSats were launched into orbit. This trend will stress our current processes to maintain SDA. Accordingly, we are working with partners in the academic and commercial sectors to determine best practices aimed at preserving the long-term safety, stability, security and sustainability of the space environment,” said Brown.
As of June 23, US Stratcom has obtained 60 SSA-Sharing Agreements with partner nations, companies and intergovernmental organizations. Through the CIC, JFCC Space is establishing the next steps for enhanced data sharing, with the goal of producing higher quality conjunction assessment data for operational safety and mission assurance, and establishing a process for reporting, tracking, resolving and measuring interference events impacting the Department of State (DOD) and commercial satellite communications. Furthermore, JFCC Space anticipates the six operators will reach out to other commercial operators as needed by JSpOC personnel, within proprietary constraints.
Brown added that JFCC Space has invited all COT members to attend weekly updates and participate in five monthly CIC focus groups to assist with developing the way ahead.
“Continued dialogue with the commercial sector and expanded participation in events such as the Commercial Operator Talks will build on current relationships begun via U.S. Stractom’s SSA Sharing Agreements. Together we can work to establish the next steps for enhanced data sharing, enabling higher quality conjunction assessment data for operational safety and mission assurance and codify a process for reporting, tracking, resolving and measuring interference events impacting DOD and commercial satellite communications,” he said.
Once the study is complete, JFCC Space will assess the long-term viability of the program, and plans to map out steps for continuing to transform JSpOC to keep up with the complexities of the space domain.
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