Mariel Borowitz. Supported by the European Commission Jean Monnet Center of Excellence (2020-23)
Europeans rely on an array of spacecraft for everyday life – communications satellites that are integrated with terrestrial communications systems, meteorological satellites critical to weather prediction, and Galileo global navigation satellites that provide timing and location data to millions of users. The environment in which these systems operate is becoming increasingly congested, as more satellites are launched and as the amount of debris in orbit increases. Detecting and avoiding potential collisions requires high quality space surveillance and analysis capabilities – generally referred to as space situational awareness (SSA) systems. Although some European countries have space surveillance capabilities, most rely on SSA data and collision warnings from the United States Department of Defence, which operates the most advanced SSA system in the world. However, given the strategic importance of space assets, in 2014 the EU decided to develop an independent European SSA capability. Since then, European nations have debated the best way to develop system. Current plans call for a federation of existing assets within European nations. Europe also has a cooperative agreement with the United States for better integration of US data. Commercial entities, in Europe and elsewhere, are beginning to offer independent SSA services. Going forward, Europe must determine the appropriate connections between national, European, allied, and commercial SSA systems.
This project would use social network analysis to examine the current and planned future connections between the SSA capabilities of European nations, joint European assets, and U.S. and commercial SSA systems.