Office of Space Commerce Initiates TraCSS Pathfinder Projects
Today, NOAA’s Office of Space Commerce (OSC) announced the start of a commercial pathfinder project in support of its Traffic Coordination System for Space (TraCSS). To execute the pathfinder, OSC placed orders with three U.S. commercial space companies for space situational awareness (SSA) data and services.
The project, known as the Consolidated Pathfinder, is a limited-term effort that focuses on SSA for the low Earth orbit (LEO) regime. The Consolidated Pathfinder will inform the buildout of the operational TraCSS, and will assess industry capabilities to maintain a space object catalog for a subset of LEO objects and provide follow-up tracking data on close approaches among those objects.
OSC placed orders with the following companies to conduct the Consolidated Pathfinder:
- COMSPOC of Exton, PA, for the provision of orbit determination services;
- LeoLabs of Menlo Park, CA, for SSA data and services focused on the LEO regime; and
- Slingshot Aerospace of El Segundo, CA, for SSA data and services focused on the LEO regime.
OSC partnered with NASA to place the orders through the Global Data Marketplace, formerly known as the SDA Marketplace. As an extension of the Consolidated Pathfinder, OSC is in the planning phases to put out an additional order for data quality monitoring services.
“Through this pathfinder, and others to follow, we are working diligently toward incorporating commercial capabilities into TraCSS,” said OSC Director Richard DalBello. “The Office of Space Commerce has always championed the government’s use of commercial space capabilities, and it is a core enabler of our own SSA program.”
OSC is developing TraCSS as a modern, cloud-based IT system that will provide basic SSA and space traffic coordination services to commercial and civil space operators for spaceflight safety, space sustainability, and international coordination. OSC is steadily progressing on building out the TraCSS architecture, with multiple inputs and on-ramps for commercial data, services, software, and innovation.
In a July 2023 presentation, OSC discussed its plans to engage the commercial SSA industry in a series of TraCSS pathfinder studies. The pathfinders will be conducted in TraCSS-HORIZON, the R&D element of TraCSS dedicated to experimentation and development of new TraCSS capabilities. Each pathfinder focuses on specific SSA capabilities, exploring technical issues to inform the integration of such capabilities into a future, operational TraCSS service. The Consolidated Pathfinder combines three of the pathfinders discussed in July: Commercial SSA Data; Mission Planning; and Data Integrity Monitoring. Orders for the Consolidated Pathfinder were placed based on evaluations of prior commercial data buys and OSC’s desire to explore scalable capabilities focused on LEO.
In addition to preparing a data quality monitoring order to extend the Consolidated Pathfinder, OSC is also preparing an order for another TraCSS pathfinder on Improved Satellite Owner/Operator Ephemeris. That study will soon start an initial set-up phase with satellite operators. OSC plans to seek participation from commercial SSA service providers for funded services on this activity in the spring of 2024, via the Global Data Marketplace.
For additional information on TraCSS, including opportunities for industry engagement, please visit space.commerce.gov/tracss.