Innovation in Industry Collaboration on the Safe Use of Space (2012)

Space Data Association

SSPI honors an association formed by satellite operators to make operations in space safer for themselves and more reliable for their customers. The Space Data Association (SDA) is the first organization created specifically to share information previously considered confidential by commercial operators. The SDA’s Space Data Center on the Isle of Man provides a common location for its operator members to securely pool satellite ephemeris data and radio frequency information in order to reduce the risk of collision in space and to more rapidly mitigate the impact of radio frequency interference. 

Founded by Intelsat, SES and Inmarsat in 2009 to address the increased crowding of Earth orbit and the lack of reliable, industry-wide data on pending collisions, SDA has grown to 12 member organizations. Its growth was spurred in no small part by the February 2010 collision of an Iridium and Cosmos satellite in low earth orbit, which made the value of SDA’s mission abundantly clear. 

The association’s Space Data Center became operational in September 2011. Since then, SDA has alerted members to numerous potential collisions and has provided a toolset to allow individual operators to assess their situation and evaluate avoidance maneuvers in real time. The Data Center provides a point of contact for each object in the database, so that operators know who to call to begin work on avoiding collision. Going forward, the Data Center will populate its database with additional information on each satellite in order to speed the process of resolving interference that degrades service to customers and takes valuable orbital real estate off the market. 

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