Digital Battlespace

Dstl leads Space Situational Awareness experiment

5th February 2020 - 11:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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A collaborative experiment being led by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has the potential to lead to significant improvements in Space Situational Awareness (SSA).

The Phantom Echoes experiment is being carried out by Dstl and representatives from the Five-Eyes nations - the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. 

Two satellites are due to rendezvous for the experiment in near-Geostationary Orbit this month: the Northrop Grumman Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) that was launched into Geostationary Transfer Orbit at 36,000km altitude above Earth’s surface in October 2019, and a commercial communications satellite.

The MEV will dock with the commercial communications satellite approximately 300km above geostationary orbit and provide manoeuvre capability that extends the lifetime of the host.

The experiment aims to demonstrate how allied SSA sensors and processing capabilities can be integrated to enhance the performance over individual systems working independently to improve space safety for UK and allied satellites in and near Geostationary Orbit. 

A combination of simulation and real-world events will be used to understand the strengths and constraints of each system that will advise the development of operational SSA architectures within the Coalition Space Operations initiative. The Phantom Echoes team will use this event to understand the challenges posed by the mission as the two satellite manoeuvre towards each other and perform docking operations.

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