House Introduces Situational Awareness Transition Bill

Image: Elijah Mears

On Wednesday, members of the House Space, Science and Technology committee introduced a bill to properly organize the rules surrounding space safety and space situational awareness (SSA). This bill, the Space Safety and Situational Awareness Transition Act of 2022, was spearheaded by Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) chairman of the subcommittee on space and aeronautics, and Donald Norcross (D-NJ).

“Space-based operations are now essential to systems our society and national security both rely on, and the number of satellites providing those systems is growing at a geometric rate,” said Beyer. “I hope that this legislation will serve as a strong starting place for future discussions about the way forward on space situational awareness.”

The bill: The key change proposed in the SSA bill would create a civil SSA capability housed within the Department of Commerce. An interagency transition team between the DoC and DoD will work together to get an initial working SSA capability up and running by 2024, and a full operational capability by 2025.

Ultimately, Congress is hoping to make accurate, timely SSA information freely and publicly available. The act supports the use of commercially available SSA data to make this happen, but doesn’t specify how the DoC will work with industry to procure data.

The other key tenets:

  • The DoC will provide Congress with an organization plan for SSA capabilities
  • NASA will carry out SSA R&D
  • Further studies on the cybersecurity, international cooperation, data sharing agreements and research strategy of SSA will also be conducted

“As space becomes more crowded every day, we must manage the risk of collisions, ensure the safety of spacecraft, and support the sustainability of space for the future,” Norcross said in a statement.

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