Space Situational Awareness (SSA) is an intricate concept that encompasses a wide range of knowledge and skills necessary to monitor and comprehend the near-Earth environment. This involves a comprehensive understanding of natural and man-made objects present within the Earth's orbit, as well as the ability to predict their movements and trajectories. One of the most critical aspects of SSA is its ability to identify and mitigate potential threats, such as orbital collisions between debris or intentional and unintentional attacks on space assets. With the help of this system, stakeholders can ensure that space assets such as satellites are protected from harm and that any risks associated with them are minimized.
The near-Earth space extends to an Earth radius of more than 100,000 km, covering all man-made objects in orbit. The data collected through SSA is used by organizers, administrators, chiefs, and authorities to establish and maintain space predominance by avoiding conflicts and potential impacts. The SSA system covers a range of space traffic management and safety programs that provide services to satellite operators to help prevent physical or operational errors. Moreover, SSA also tracks space bodies that could interfere with a particular orbit circle and anticipates their position in advance to prevent collisions with satellites.
The pressing requirement for satellite services such as communication, navigation, and Earth observation has led to an exponential rise in the number of satellites launched into orbit. This rise in the number of satellites has, in turn, necessitated the need for a space situational awareness (SSA) system to manage and monitor the orbiting objects effectively, thus ensuring their safe and efficient operations. SSA has become an intriguing concept that revolves around monitoring and understanding the near-Earth environment encompassing existing and predictive knowledge regarding natural and man-made objects within the Earth's orbit. Through SSA, it is possible to prevent potential threats such as orbital collisions between natural or man-made debris and space assets such as satellites. The system covers space traffic management and space safety programs which include services planned to assist satellite operators in preventing physical or operational errors. Furthermore, the data collected helps the organizers, administrators, chiefs, and authorities in acquiring and keeping up space predominance by impeding clashes and expected impacts.
The Space Situational Awareness Market is projected to grow from USD 1.6 billion in 2023 to USD 2.19 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 4.6%.
The intricate space environment has become increasingly complicated due to the steady influx of newly designed space systems and spacefaring entities, compounded by the existence of dangerous debris. A prime example of this is the European Space Agency's report, which revealed that over the course of nearly six decades of space activity, more than 6,050 launches have led to roughly 56,450 objects being tracked in orbit. As of now, roughly 28,160 objects remain in space, posing a significant challenge to space management and safety. Space is now regarded as a crucial sector for national security purposes.
An increasing number of nations are utilizing space for national security, scientific, and other purposes. As of now, 80 countries are actively involved in space activities. Due to the mounting congestion in space, organizations across various countries are collaborating to ensure the sustainability and safety of space activities. In October 2020, India expanded its cooperation with the United States to enhance its capabilities in Space Situational Awareness (SSA).
North America houses the country with almost 50% share of global defense spending. In 2021, the United States spent USD 801 billion on military expenditures, making it the top nation in this category with almost 38% of global military spending. The United States is a leading nation in the space sector with top companies such as NASA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, LLC, etc. Given its position, the United States is committed to supporting other countries' space programs, as seen with the April 2022 "Space Situational Awareness" agreement between India and the US. This pact allows India to receive space debris and potential threat data from the US, enabling India to ensure the safety and security of its space assets.
The US Space Force and US Space Command have granted L3Harris Technologies a contract worth USD 117 million for option year three, in April 2022. The contract is for maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure that tracks objects in space under the MOSSAIC program. The MOSSAIC program is expected to have a contract value of USD 1.2 billion spanning over 10 years.
In February 2021, L3Harris Technologies received an award worth USD 89 million to continue supporting the U.S. Space Force and Space Command in maintaining infrastructure for tracking assets in orbit. This award was part of a potential 10-year, USD 1.2 billion contract for the Maintenance of Space Situational Awareness Integrated Capabilities.
The importance of Space Situational Awareness cannot be overstated. It plays a vital role in ensuring the safety and sustainability of space assets and activities, thereby enabling the continued growth and exploration of the final frontier. The rise in collaboration among different countries for developing technology can act as an opportunity for the growth of the space situational awareness (SSA) market.