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SDA Now Performs Conjunction Screening For More Than 300 Satellites

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by Staff Writers
Isle Of Man (SPX) Jan 24, 2011
The Space Data Association (SDA), established by commercial satellite operators to improve the safety and efficiency of space operations, has announced that it now provides conjunction assessment (CA) processing (assessing the physical proximity of objects in space) for more than 60% of all operational satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO).

Late last year, the SDA's chief technology adviser, Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), transferred users of the SOCRATES GEO and LEO programs from the heritage CelesTrak platform to the SDA's Space Data Center, a database of high-accuracy orbital information for data sharing.

The Space Data Center now provides CA services for 197 satellites from 13 geosynchronous satellite operators and 114 operational satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) from seven LEO operators.

Compared to the CelesTrak platform, the Space Data Center provides a more robust and secure bespoke platform for operational data exchange, thereby ensuring enhanced safety of operations. The SDC ensures satellite operators' data is compared in a common format and takes into account planned maneuvers.

The SDA brings the additional benefit of a legal framework to protect and control the use of shared data. The SOCRATES conjunction assessment program was started in 2008 by AGI's Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI), hosted on CSSI's CelesTrak platform.

In April 2010, the SDA awarded AGI a contract to develop the Space Data Center to provide CA and data-sharing capabilities for satellite operators. The Space Data Center began initial operations in July 2010 for SDA founding members Inmarsat, Intelsat and SES. The capability of the Space Data Center will be expanded in the near future to include data sharing in support of RF interference mitigation.

Some SOCRATES participants are already members of the SDA, and many others have expressed interest in joining.

The SDA has agreed to an interim membership status for these satellite operators with an expectation that they will become formal members at the time of the Space Data Center's full operations capability, scheduled for March 2011.

SDA Chairman Stewart Sanders says, "Preserving a clean and safe space environment is critical to commercial and government space users now and for generations to come. The successful transfer of the proven SOCRATES services to the Space Data Center is a milestone for the SDA. The strong interest in SDA membership among SOCRATES participants is a clear indicator that the Space Data Center is proving its capabilities."

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