HomeTech StoriesUS Agency Develops Warning System Prototype to Avoid Satellite Collisions

US Agency Develops Warning System Prototype to Avoid Satellite Collisions

A growing number of players, including private companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, are trying to gain access to the lucrative space sector by launching new satellites. Because of this, space is getting increasingly crowded, raising the risk of collision among satellites. To deal with this situation, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has developed a collision-warning system. It unveiled the prototype recently and hoped it will ease the burden on satellite operators considerably. The prototype is designed to alert operators when their spacecraft may be on a collision course with another object.

The NOAA has named the system Open-Architecture Data Repository (OADR) and it works in a way the weather warning system alerts flights if they are in the path of a storm. With a cloud-operated database, the system keeps a tab on the number of satellites in Earth orbit and warns if there’s a risk of any collision.

The NOAA demonstrated the system during a live press conference on YouTube recently.

The OAADR works by collecting data from various sources – such as ground-based sensors, space weather observation centres, and satellite telemetry and maneuvering plans. It then creates a map of the orbital environment to see if there are any looming issues, including close encounters between orbiting objects. The OADR alerts satellite operators if it finds any anomaly, giving them enough time to move their satellite out of the way.

However, the system is not yet fully functional. It is under development and will take some time to deploy. The OADR team expects to deploy the system for the first time in 2024 and get it fully operational by 2025.

Currently, private trucking companies provide such data. But NOAA hopes OADR, when fully ready, will have more data than others and better prediction capabilities.

There are more than 23,000 objects in space with a diameter of 4 inches or greater, according to NASA. That number is rapidly growing with the space race heating up. “We expect on the order of 57,000 new satellites by the year 2030,” Stephen Volz, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation at NOAA, said during the press conference.

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