Thursday, 16 February 2017 22:23

Sky and Space Global, US Defence agree space junk avoidance deal

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NASA photo showing CubeSats flying free after leaving the International Space Station NASA photo showing CubeSats flying free after leaving the International Space Station

ASX-listed satellite communications company Sky and Space Global has signed an agreement with the US Department of Defence under which the two organisations will co-operate on ensuring the avoidance of space junk and other satellites threatening their own satellites.

The US Department of Defence's Strategic Command Joint Space Operations Centre sought and got Sky and Space’s signature to the agreement ahead of the company’s planned launch of 200 nano-satellites into space and as space junk continues to be a big issue as space becomes more cluttered.

The agreement provides for Sky and Space to receive "space situational awareness services" from the US Department of Defence so Sky and Space's nano-satellites will be able to avoid objects like space junk and other satellites.

Sky and Space Global wholly owns Sky and Space Global (UK), a UK incorporated company with European and Israeli centres of aerospace, satellite and software Industry experts.

The deal, which will save Sky and Space millions from not having to build such a service itself, is facilitated through the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Joint Space Operations Centre and ensures the safe operation of the company’s nano-satellites, the first three of which are planned to be launched in the second quarter of this year via the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

The IRSO celebrated its latest successful launch on Wednesday, completing a world record launch of 104 satellites from their launcher, PSLV-C37, beating the previous record of 33.

USSTRATCOM is responsible for the detection and tracking of all artificial objects in Earth’s orbit and has been delegated authority by the US Secretary of Defence to provide space situational awareness services and information to Sky and Space Global.

It will provide Sky and Space Global with space situational awareness services such as anomaly resolution, collision avoidance support, conjunction assessment, deorbit and re-entry support, disposal/end-of-life support, electromagnetic interference investigation and on-orbit information to ensure the safe operation of the company’s nano-satellites to be used in its narrow bandwidth communications constellation.

Sky and Space Global’s chief executive, Meir Moalem, said, “Sky and Space Global is a good citizen of space. We are part of a growing community of space operators and users, and as such, we are looking forward to working with the US Department of Defence to help us better track and manage our constellation of nano-satellites.

“Sky and Space Global congratulates the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) team on the successful launch of PSLV-C37. This successful launch is very encouraging for Sky & Space Global and validates our choice of launch partner.

“Following this successful launch, Sky and Space Global’s 3 Diamonds will be scheduled onto the next planned ISRO launch, with the launch date in Q2 2017 to be confirmed in the coming weeks."

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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