An emphasis by SpaceX to coordinate with other satellite operators

An emphasis by SpaceX to coordinate with other satellite operators

Two years after the close approach of a Starlink satellite with a European Space Agency satellite alarms some in the space industry. SpaceX says it is in work with a broad range of satellite operatives in order to safeguard safe space tasks.

In September 2019, ESA announces it maneuvered an Earth science satellite known as Aeolus when the firm determines it would pass alarmingly near a Starlink satellite. The event was worsened by a breakdown in communication between ESA and SpaceX in the days leading up to the close approach.

After that event “we went to work synchronizing” with both industrial and government satellite operatives, says David Goldstein. David is the principal guidance navigation and control engineer at SpaceX. This is through a panel discussion at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies, or AMOS, Conference.

The best-well-known example of that coordination is a Space Act Agreement between the following two –

Under the terms of that contract, SpaceX agrees to shift its Starlink satellites in the event of any close methodologies with NASA spacecraft. A move is intentional in order to prevent scenarios when both parties manipulated their satellites.

In addition to that contract, Goldstein says that the firm has a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the U.S. Space Force. A “good working connection” with the following –

  • ESA
  • The European Union’s Space Surveillance and Tracking program

Those partnerships extend even to OneWeb, a firm that complains in Federal Communications Commission filings about a close approach one of its lately launched satellites had with a Starlink satellite in March. “We have a great working relationship with OneWeb following that conjunction in March,” Goldstein says. “Just fantastic coordination at the operational level.”

Other companies SpaceX is at work with concerning space traffic management consist of Astroscale. It is improving technologies to service satellites and remove orbital debris, and United Launch Alliance. The effort with ULA, he says, is to focus on “launch COLA [collision prevention] sorts of concerns.”

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