US, European Space Agency Sign Space Situational Awareness Agreement

US Strategic Command and the European Space Agency signed a new space situational awareness agreement last week, according to a STRATCOM release. The agreement, signed Oct. 30 at the ESA office in Washington, D.C., will provide ESA “higher quality and more timely space information” and allow STRATCOM to “optimize surveillance,” states the release. “As more countries, companies, and organizations field space capabilities and benefit from the use of space systems, it is in our collective interest to act responsibly, to promote transparency, and to enhance the long-term sustainability, stability, safety and security in space,” STRATCOM Commander Adm. Cecil Haney said. For ESA, “The agreement improves ESA’s operations in low orbital altitudes, an environment that is contaminated with numerous debris from recent orbital fragmentation, at a moment in time where we are about to significantly increase the number of active missions in this orbit,” said ESA’s Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain. Dordain said the data collaboration will help ESA officials avoid collisions and improve safety in the satellites’ early operation phase.