Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
Since the launch of Sputnik in 1957, space has been transformed from a mostly serene environment to one bustling with activity. The past five decades have witnessed a global growth in reliance on space capabilities and a corresponding increase in the number of man-made objects in orbit. The capabilities and missions performed from space have proliferated in both sophistication and complexity. In addition, threats to on-orbit assets are also on the rise. These factors all point to the need for an improved means to monitor, assess, and predict space activities to support better decision making. Today, the ability to assess the purpose of an observed space event and predict future actions is mostly absent. Instead, capabilities are limited to monitoring space activity in particular regions of space and focused mostly on cataloging space objects. While a database of positional information on space objects is important to a basic understanding of the space domain, the ability for example to predict a space event, and assess its purpose as either hostile or benign is also necessary. This type of understanding requires situational awareness SA. SA is the knowledge of activities within a domain, which may affect the mission. Thus, the concept of space situational awareness SSA emerges as a necessity for the space domain.