The U.S. Space Force is not that concerned at this point. That is with the development of commercial space activity is establishing safety problems. However, things could alter if space traffic and debris are not controlled. Says Gen. David Thompson who is the vice chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force.
Commercial missions such as cyberspace constellations and civil pursuits in low Earth orbit are positive expansions, Thompson said in a meeting. The military supports this development, however, would like to see a civilian organization in charge of controlling traffic and policing unsafe activities.
Thompson adds, “I would be reluctant to restrict activity because I believe there’s power in the commercial and civil facets of space. These help us enhance and will continue to improve our lives.”
Air Force and Space Force operatives at Vandenberg Air Force, California, serve the following:
- As the nation’s de facto space traffic cops
- Keeping track of objects in space
- Warning of potential collisions in orbit
The Department of Defense, however, is not a governing organization, Thompson notes.
Collision cautionary duties expect to transition to the Department of Commerce by 2024 however, there are other problems that a civilian organization must take such as:
- Managing activities so they do not create hazards
- Setting guidelines for how satellites should maneuver
- What happens when spacecraft exceeds their lifetimes
“How do you dispose of them appropriately and suitably in a safe approach?” according to Thompson. What is probable to transpire is that there will be “a growing risk to function in certain orbits. So, some type of supervision is going to be necessary, adds Thompson.
Congestion in low Earth orbit, for instance, could influence the launch windowpanes which are accessible for the military. This is to introduce satellites to greater orbits. Thompson does not sight this as an immediate challenge however, it could deteriorate over time.
Thompson says, “I am definitely not concerned yet about so much movement so as to strictly restrict our capability to launch. However, we will get to that position if we do not control it efficiently.”
The military’s space launch managers conduct “collision analysis” at the Space and Missile Systems Center. It is done several times leading up to each launch’s ultimate terminal count, MSC says in a statement. In addition, MSC adds, “the worldwide rise of activities among the space domain generates superior complexities for all kinds of space functions. The Launch Enterprise acknowledges this and constantly functions. This is in order to boost opportunities while reducing risks to release vehicles and spacecraft.”