European Commission chooses GVM to lead STM programme

The European Commission has chosen Madrid-based GMV to lead a consortium to make proposals for a future European Space Traffic Management (STM) capability: EUSTM.

GVM is a leader in Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST).

The need to set up a EUSTM system comes about as space activity has increased exponentially in recent decades, according to the European Commission.

The emergence of new public and private actors, plus new concepts such as small satellites and large constellations, orbiting satellite services, and reusable rockets, all pose new challenges.

The number of objects in orbit is likely to increase drastically, and it is therefore necessary to develop capabilities to manage them in an efficient manner.

An increasing need for a European coordinated policy and legal framework supported by the required technology developments has also emerged to foster and ensure the desired security, safety, sustainability and stability of space operations.

These frameworks are broadly known as Space Traffic Management (STM) while the technology supporting is referred to as Space Situational Awareness (SSA) or Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST).

In Europe, the SSA/SST remit is held by ESA (European Space Agency) and the European Commission.

Space infrastructure

SSA/SST activities are currently focused on creating an architecture of radars, telescopes, SLR stations and data centres dedicated to the surveillance and protection of space infrastructure.

They perform functions of detection, identification, and cataloguing of objects that orbit the Earth.

SSA/SST activities also support missions, the safety of satellites in Earth orbit, and reduce the risks of the re-entry of space objects into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The importance of tracking space debris has come to the fore in the last two decades. Initiatives at a national and international level aim to tackle this issue by promoting prevention, achieving a better understanding of the situation and pursuing active collision-avoidance operations as well as active debris removal.

Europe greatly benefits from the open policy of the US federal government in terms of accessing SSA/SST data and services by means of dedicated SSA Data Sharing agreements.

SSA/SST capability

To ensure sovereignty, autonomy and leadership in this domain whilst reducing this dependability, the European Commission has started to work on an independent SSA/SST capability.

EUSTM´s objective is to strengthen the European public and private space sector, encourage an innovative, competitive, and profitable space industry, as well as a research community that develops and runs space infrastructure.

EUSTM will roll out an innovative collaborative platform to encourage the exchange of information among team members and also relevant external stakeholders.

This platform’s goal is to create an active community of interest that will be an endless source of STM information for the European Commsssion.

The GMV-led EUSTM consortium is made up of 18 European industries and institutions: Weber-Steinhaus and Smith (Germany); Europaisches Institut fur Weltraumpolitik (Austria); Spacetec Partners SRL and Qinetiq Space NV (Belgium), GomSpace (Denmark); Satellite Center of the European Union, ENAIRE, Payload Aerospace, SL (Spain); Iceye Oy (Finland); Eutelsat SA, PriceWaterhouseCoopers Advisory SAS, Office National d’Estudes et de Recherches Aerospatiales, Safran and Université Paris-Saclay (France); AVIO SPA (Italy); and Universitaet Bern, Clearspace SA, Sceye SA (Switzerland).