‘Slow transition:’ Commerce may need 5+ years to take over DoD non-military space tracking | Space

2023 12 Hearing Dalbello 1024x576.jpeg

On Dec. 13, 2023, Office of Space Commerce Director Richard DalBello testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, at a hearing on “Government Promotion of Safety and Innovation in the New Space Economy.” (Photo: NOAA Office of Space Commerce)

WASHINGTON — The Commerce Department official responsible for overseeing the planned shift of non-military space tracking from the Defense Department said today that operators should not expect a near-term, or abrupt, change-over — suggesting that the process likely will stretch beyond the next five-year horizon.

“The rollover from DoD to Department of Commerce is a phase transition. As you know, DoD is very, very large. And there are lots of DoDs,” Richard DalBello, director of the Office of Space Commerce at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told a meeting of the Washington Space Business Roundtable.

NOAA is the Commerce Department’s arm that currently regulates commercial remote sensing, and has been tapped by both the Trump and Biden administrations to expand its role to monitoring the heavens and helping commercial, civil (think NASA) and foreign space operators avoid on-orbit crashes.

“We are now in bunch of working groups … but how we get data from the DoD, how they stand down on the missions that they have been performing, how we stand up the what will be the TraCCS outreach to the world and how we stand down in SpaceTrack.org, all these things are going to be very slow,” DalBello said.

TraCCS, for Traffic Coordination System for Space, is the Commerce Department’s embryonic construct for keeping tabs on the heavens. SpaceTrack.org is the public website where DoD publishes rough coordinates of the whereabouts of space objects, although not all US or allied military and Intelligence satellites are included in that so-called catalog.

TraCCS, at least in the near term, will need to rely on the detection and tracking capabilities of…

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