16 August 2020
Coalition Partners, U.S. and UK, Agree to Share Technical Foundation for Space Operations
By Doug Messier
The U.K. was the first international partner to join U.S. Space Command’s Operation OLYMPIC DEFENDER and is the first to receive access to the SAAL, though USSF is currently working with other partner nations to expand that list.
Operation OLYMPIC DEFENDER is a key multinational effort intended to optimize space operations, improve mission assurance, enhance resilience, and synchronize U.S. efforts with its allies. The synchronization and sharing of capabilities under OOD enhances allied space-faring nations’ ability to see the space environment with clarity, navigate with accuracy, and streamline multinational operations across the globe.
Recently, as part of a larger effort to improve space domain awareness, the Secretary of the Air Force’s International Affairs Office, USSPACECOM and USSF recognized a framework allowing OOD coalition partners to receive the SAAL. This collaboration is part of a continuing effort to enable integrated operations with OOD partners.
The USSF-owned SAAL is the technical foundation for mission systems utilized in U.S. space operations centers. The SAAL library is USSF’s investment in the study of orbital physics and algorithms to help predict the locations and trajectories of satellites and objects in orbit. Providing the U.K. with access to the SAAL allows the partner nations to better collaborate in the space domain.\
“Aggressive actions in space must be deterred through a multinational, coordinated effort, allowing for the defense and protection or our collective capabilities,” said Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt, USSF director of Operations and Communications. “Sharing the SAAL with our coalition partners enables greater cooperation and coordination between the U.S. and our Allies.”
The SAAL will increase the ability of the U.K.’s Space Operations Center to collaborate with the USSF and will provide the best available algorithms to interpret, predict, and integrate data that the 18th Space Control Squadron, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif, is already sharing with the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence.
“Today’s partnerships are vital in the contested space environment and strengthen our shared national space security requirements and complicate potential adversary decision making,” then-Rear Adm. Marcus A. Hitchcock, who recently retired after serving as USSPACECOM Director of Strategy, Plans and Policy.
“This formal agreement is a testament to our commitment to building and maintaining stronger security relationship with our Allies and partners.” In addition to OOD and the SAAL, data sharing agreements also demonstrate the growing importance of safety and security in the space domain to all responsible, space-faring nations.