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New deal will help protect Europe's satellites from space debris

New deal will help protect Europe's satellites from space debris

US warning centre. Image credit: US Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons
US warning centre. Image credit: US Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons

Sen—The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed an agreement with the US Strategic Command to improve communications between the two organisations and so reduce the threat of collisions with space junk.

It means the American defence organisation will supply more detailed information more quickly to ESA which will assist the agency in planning launches and early orbit operations, as well as avoiding debris. ESA will receive the higher quality and more timely and cusomisable space information tailored to its needs in exchange for sharing more accurate positional information about its own satellites.

Engineers at ESA’s Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, currently control five satellites in low orbits and expect six more to join them in the next few years. Improved collision warnings mean ESA controllers can take more efficient evasive action when its Earth observation satellites are threatened by space junk. ESA have already been receiving US data and predictions on possible ‘conjunctions’ for some time, but could not request customised data. Under the new arrangement, ESA can request specific surveillance information and receive it in a timely manner.

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November 3, 2014


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