The Pentagon Plans to Share "High-Precision" Space Tracking Data with the Private Sector

26/09/2023 - 11:20
Source: NASA
Source: NASA

The United States Department of Defense is set to commence the transmission of precise satellite location data and information about hazardous space debris to the Department of Commerce next year, in support of the creation of a space traffic advisory service, as reported by, citing Breaking Defense.

In accordance with the White House's Space Policy Directive of 2018, the Department of Commerce has been tasked with relieving the Department of Defense of the responsibility of monitoring an increasingly crowded space environment and providing warnings to non-military space operators about potential orbital collisions. Initially, the Department of Commerce's Office of Space Commerce will heavily rely on tracking data from the Space Surveillance Network, comprising ground and space-based radars and telescopes.

The U.S. Space Force and the U.S. Space Command maintain two separate databases of object data used to calculate the trajectories of space objects over time, enabling predictions of potential space collisions. One of these databases is publicly accessible via the website, while the other is a high-precision database only available to allies and partners who have signed official agreements with SPACECOM. (While detecting objects in orbit is relatively straightforward, predicting their future positions is more complex, and tracking maneuverable spacecraft is even more challenging.)

From the outset, the main question has been what data the Department of Commerce will share and what limitations, if any, the Pentagon will impose on its use. Both parties have signed a memorandum of understanding. This document does not provide details on how they will overcome classification barriers.



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