Commerce RFI asks for industry input on space traffic management

By Michael Marrow / January 26, 2023 at 11:05 AM

Ahead of a planned transfer of civil space traffic management services from U.S. Space Command to the Commerce Department, officials are asking industry for further feedback to help define the scope of space situational awareness (SSA) services, according to a request for information posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today.

The Office of Space Commerce (OSC) plans to offer basic space situational awareness services free of charge through a new space traffic system but is still struggling to delineate between basic and more advanced services that would be excluded. The RFI asks the space community -- such as industry, academia and legal experts -- for input on how to define the scope for that space safety system, called the Traffic Management System for Space (TraCSS).

“Basic SSA safety services can include additional services that significantly increase the safety, stability and sustainability of the space environment. However, OSC will also consider whether the provision of such services will negatively impact the U.S. SSA industry,” the RFI says.

“The precise demarcation between these basic SSA safety services and other advanced services is driven by present SSA needs and market dynamics,” it continues. “Given the rapid acceleration of technological advances, OSC is committed to continue to observe changes in the marketplace and its underlying technologies, and consider how these developments, along with SSA service needs, might shift the demarcation between basic and advanced services as time goes on.”

The RFI then lists 14 services that are under consideration for inclusion in TraCSS, ranging from access to a database of satellite attributes to warnings about space weather. Nine other identified services would be excluded, such as optimized recommendations for satellite maneuvers.

The RFI says responses are due Feb. 27 and was first reported by Breaking Defense.

Mandated by a 2018 presidential decree known as Space Policy Directive 3, the transition comes as the number of commercial and military orbital hardware is expected to skyrocket, with the directive instructing Commerce to adopt civil space duties and DOD to retain focus on military systems.

The two departments have since struck a memorandum of agreement laying out a transition framework, which created two working groups that are respectively working to clarify responsibilities and craft a data sharing agreement. OSC Director Richard DalBello previously said that work is expected to conclude this spring.