Europe’s Approach to Space Situational Awareness: A Proposal

  • Lucia C. Marta
  • Giovanni Gasparini
Part of the Yearbook on Space Policy book series (YEARSPACE)


According to the “User Expert Group of ESA SSA Requirement Study”, a Space Situational Awareness (SSA) system can be defined as a system which provides “comprehensive knowledge of the population of space objects, of existing threats and risks, and of the space environment”.354 As distinguished from the notion of “space surveillance” which denotes the routine and operational service of the detection, correlation, characterisation and orbit determination of space objects, the SSA concept “implies more in terms of data processing and use”.355 An SSA system is normally composed of space and ground segments. The United States is the only country which has so far developed a global SSA system.356 A European SSA programme could be started by connecting the existing national ground radars and telescopes in a single European network. In a later step, the system could then be completed with ESA space assets. A European SSA system could provide four categories of services that can be grouped into two big families:
  • Space Object Surveillance, including
    • a Surveillance and Monitoring Service

    • an Imaging (Characterisation) Service

  • Space Environment Monitoring, including
    • a Space Weather Service

    • a Near-Earth Object (NEO) Service.


Space Weather Space Object European Space Agency Governance Model Satellite Operator 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 359.
    The European Space Policy acknowledges that space is a strategic tool for independence, prosperity, development and progress from an economic, technological, scientific and societal point of view. Moreover, it states that the use of space assets has become essential, particularly for security and defence purposes. See: Council of the European Union. “Resolution on the European Space Policy.” 10037/07, 22 May 2007. Public Register of Council Documents 22 Aug. 2008. Scholar
  2. 362.
    “Directive 2007/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2007 Establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE).” Official Journal of the European Union 25 Apr. 2007. 20 Oct. 2008. The INSPIRE Directive entered into force on 15 May 2007.Google Scholar
  3. 364.
    “Gesetz zum Schutz vor Gefährdung der Sicherheit der Bundesrepublik Deutschland durch das Verbreiten von hochwertigen Erdfernerkundungsdaten (Satellitendatensicherheitsgesetz — SatDSiG).” [Law Safeguarding the Security Interests of the Federal Republic of Germany from Endangerment by the Distribution of High-Grade Earth Remote Sensing Data, in German]. Bundesgesetzblatt I 23 Nov. 2007. 2590. Juris BMJ 20 Oct. 2008. Scholar
  4. 368.
    See, for example: Giovanni Gasparini, Jean-Pierre Darnis, and Xavier Pasco. “The Cost of Non-Europe in the Area of Satellite-Based Systems.” Study EXPO/B/SEDE/2006/15, PE 348.587. Brussels: European Parliament, December 2007. 20 Oct. 2008. Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucia C. Marta
  • Giovanni Gasparini

There are no affiliations available

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