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PSSI Space Security Program Director Chairs Inaugural Defence Satellite Conference in Brussels

19.05.2016

PSSI’s Space Security Program Director, Jana Robinson, chaired the inaugural Defence Satellites conference organized by [Intelligence Sec] in Brussels on May 10-12, 2016 (agenda is available here). Representatives from the EU, ESA, national Ministries of Defense, and commercial entities (e.g. AGI, SES, LuxGovSat, etc.) discussed developments in the vital areas of Space Situational Awareness (SSA)/Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST), Earth observation, and satellite communications, with the main focus on the European space landscape in both the public and private sectors.

In the area of Earth observation, representatives from Ministries of Defense discussed their national capabilities, as well as benefits of, and obstacles to, collaboration in this sphere.  Commercial representatives from QinetiQ and Urthecast also introduced their technical capabilities. The EU Satellite Centre explained their mandate, including their role in supporting the EU external action through the Copernicus program, and their “front desk” role in the EU SST framework.

In the area of telecommunications, considerations involved in the development of GovSatCom at a European level were explained by European Defence Agency (EDA) and European Commission (EC) representatives, and LuxGovSat provided an overview of their business activities, including the plan to launch their GovSatCom-1 in 2017. Ministries of Defense representatives provided an overview of their MilSatCom capabilities.

In the area of SSA, the speakers discussed opportunities and limitations related to SSA sharing and the role of commercial entities, such as the AGI. An EU representative explained the EU SST Framework, including the functioning of a Consortium established, at least for now, among five EU Member States to share their individual SST capabilities. SDA provided an overview of the evolution of their organization since it was established in 2009, as well as its future priorities. ESA explained its SSA program for the period of 2017-2020. Satellite IRG discussed its work in the arena of radio frequency interference.

It was concluded that due to the already complex traffic in space (including some less experienced operators), the ever-present issue of space debris, the tense geopolitical situation, and the need for a more comprehensive SSA, space security should be accorded greater attention at senior political levels. 

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