OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (AFNS) — U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) entered into an agreement with the Norwegian Ministry of Defense and Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries to share space situational awareness (SSA) services and information.
The arrangement will enhance awareness within the space domain and increase the safety of spaceflight operations. It was formalized in a memorandum of understanding signed by U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Clinton E. Crosier, the USSTRATCOM director of plans and policy, April 4, 2017, at the 33rd Annual Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Norwegian Army Maj. Gen. Odd-Harald Hagen, the Norwegian Ministry of Defense Department of Defense Policy and Long-Term Planning director general, and Arne Benjaminsen, Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries Research and Innovation Department director general, March 1, in Oslo, Norway.
“Maintaining freedom of navigation as an international norm is best approached via coalitions formed through an intersection of interests,” said Crosier. “Space situational agreements are a prime example of this, helping to strengthen our alliances while at the same time increasing our resiliency.”
“This situational space awareness memorandum of understanding is an important milestone for Norway’s development as an active and responsible space nation in the High North and Arctic,” said Hagen.” This represents a practical and symbolic evidence of the strong relationship and continuing development between our two nations.”
Norway joins 12 nations (the United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Canada, Italy, Japan, Israel, Spain, Germany, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Belgium), two intergovernmental organizations (the European Space Agency and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) and more than 60 commercial satellite owner/operator/launchers already participating in SSA data-sharing agreements with USSTRATCOM.
“Besides defending this nation against all threats, we also have to protect the space environment so it is available to current and future generations everywhere,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, the USSTRATCOM commander. “One of the ways we do that is through space situational awareness – to understand what is going on in space – so that our space systems can continue to provide national, military, civil, scientific and economic benefits to the global community.”
SSA data-sharing agreements enhance multinational space cooperation and streamline the process for USSTRATCOM partners to request specific information gathered by USSTRATCOM’s Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The information is crucial for launch support, satellite maneuver planning, support for on-orbit anomalies, electromagnetic interference reporting and investigation, satellite decommissioning activities and on-orbit conjunction assessments.
“We have worked hard over the last couple of years to make the case that we want space to be a domain that is available for everyone to use,” said Crosier. “But to do that we need to understand what is going on in space and the best way to do that is through transparency – to share information – because just like in the air, land or sea domain, we are stronger when we operate together.”
One of nine DoD unified combatant commands, USSTRATCOM has global strategic missions, assigned through the Unified Command Plan. They include strategic deterrence, space operations, cyberspace operations, joint electronic warfare, global strike, missile defense, intelligence, and analysis and targeting.
(N.Sethurupan, US AF )