New Space and Tech

Legislation To Establish And Clarify Space Situational Awareness Roles For Civilian Agencies Introduced

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee
December 14, 2022
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Legislation To Establish And Clarify Space Situational Awareness Roles For Civilian Agencies Introduced
Space Debris

Today, Chairman Don Beyer (D-VA) of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, along with Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ), introduced the Space Safety and Situational Awareness Transition Act of 2022.

Space situational awareness (SSA) provides a foundation for understanding where space objects are now, predicting their future trajectories, and evaluating the risk of potential collisions to operating satellites and human spaceflight safety. SSA is increasingly important to supporting the safety of orbital operations. The Space Situational Awareness Transition Act of 2022 establishes a civil SSA capability under the Department of Commerce to support spaceflight safety and space sustainability. The bill also supports National Aeronautics and Space Administration research and development activities that will help inform and improve space situational awareness.

“Space-based operations are now essential to systems our society and national security both rely on, and the number of satellites providing those systems is growing at a geometric rate. Our federal leadership on space situational awareness has not kept up with this growing footprint in space or the challenges it raises. When I became Chair of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, I said that addressing this problem was one of my top goals, and today we are introducing the product of many months of work consulting government agencies, stakeholders, and experts on the best way forward. The bill we introduced today is our best attempt to direct inter-agency traffic and establish clearly defined roles for key players on space situational awareness, including the Department of Commerce and NASA. I hope that this legislation will serve as a strong starting place for future discussions about the way forward on space situational awareness,” said Rep. Beyer (D-VA), Chair of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee.

“So many aspects of our daily lives—communications, weather forecasting, national security initiatives—rely on systems based in space,” said Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ). “As space becomes more crowded every day, we must manage the risk of collisions, ensure the safety of spacecraft, and support the sustainability of space for the future. This bill will do just that by building a foundation at the Department of Commerce for civil space situational awareness services and information. I’m glad to have joined Congressman Beyer in introducing this critical legislation, and I look forward to my colleagues joining us in moving this effort forward.”

A one-pager on the bill is available here.

In May 2022, the Committee held a hearing titled, Space Situational Awareness: Guiding the Transition to a Civil Capability.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.