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Activity title

Space Environment Support to NATO Space Situational Awareness

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Systems Concepts and Integration

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Awaiting Publication

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Near Earth Object, NEO, Space Debris, Space Operation, Space Situational Awareness, Space weather, SSA


The political, military and security world rapidly changing, leading NATO to increasingly be dependent on space support: NATO operations will continue to depend on capabilities provided by space: communications, weather, missile warning and tracking, navigation and timing data, ISTAR; and, as NATO continues to transform to a joint expeditionary military force, there will be increasing demands for support from space-based assets. Ensuring that such support will be available when needed, requires NATO to rely on appropriate space situational awareness, defined as “NATO Space Situational Awareness is the knowledge and the understanding of military and non-military events, activities, circumstances and conditions within and associated with the space environment or space related systems that are relevant for current and future NATO interest, operations and exercises.” Scope: - NATO Space Situational Awareness applies whenever and wherever NATO plans, conducts own operations, exercises and NATO activities; as directed by the NAC and in accordance with international law. - NATO Space Situational Awareness considers the integrity of space assets and space-related systems affected by space-originated natural or artificial hazards. NATO Space Situational Awareness also comprises such effects on society and individuals. Space related military requirements differ significantly now than they did just a decade ago. Examples are the Chinese antisatellite test in January 2007, the space debris collision of US / Russian owned satellites in February 2009 as well as the published US report (January 2009) on “The Economic and Societal Impact of Space Weather”. In the United States the Air Force established the Space Command. Strong and close cooperation exists in the U.S.A. between civil and military space situational awareness (SSA) activities. In Europe several activities related to space weather, space debris and Near Earth Objects (NEOs) were carried out in the last decade by ESA, national space organisations and supported by the European Commission. During ESA Ministerial Conference in November 2008 the Space Situational Awareness program was signed. SSA is an implementation of the EU space policy. In Europe, SSA is a security related program with the three fields: space weather, space debris and NEOs. The first phase of SSA at ESA will be carried out between 2009 and 2011. A second phase is foreseen after 2012. However the SSA programmes in the USA, in the EU respectively from ESA are for high priority to NATO and are not yet transformed to NATO military long term capability requirements respectively to NATO operations. These programmes are also relevant to NATO research topics and addresses the LTCR on Space Capability Preservation.


The following objectives of NATO-SSA are foreseen: 1) Identify potential NATO SSA needs and conduct studies and analyses to evaluate tools, techniques, methodologies or approaches that can be employed to satisfy those needs, 2) Identify potential gaps and shortfalls, as well as research or other activities that could be performed to mitigate them, 3) Recommend potential tools by demonstration and recommended responses 4) Conduct educational activities to support greater awareness of NATO SSA needs among the Alliance members.


1) Effects of space hazards on NATO interests, including civilian capabilities, 2) Assessment of space hazard prediction tools and products, 3) Proof of concept and demonstration of selected space hazard tools and recommended responses 4) Identification of potential gaps and shortfalls, 5) Education of NATO space operational officers, including a NATO SSA workshop and specialist meeting.

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