Office of Space Commerce to Begin Space Traffic Management Development

Officials at the National Space Council declared that they are expecting the Office of Space Commerce to begin development of a new architecture for the management of space traffic. This is a unique initiative that was previously bogged down by lack of studies and funding.

Chirag Parikh, executive secretary of the National Space Council, said that he is very happy as the organization was able to get Richard DalBello in the position of leadership for operating the Office of Space Commerce. DalBello is a former government official and space industry veteran who was named to the top job in late April at the Office of Space Commerce. Since January 2021, the post has been vacant.

At present, DalBello is working very closely with the Department of Defense, the U.S. Space Command, and the Space Force. They are striving persistently to create a linkage to help with the transition of the new mission from the Department of Defense over to Commerce.

The Office of Space Commerce was charged with deploying Space Policy Directive 3, which is a 4-year-old policy directing the Commerce Department to take control of various responsibilities of civil space traffic management. It includes delivering warnings and notifications related to potential close approaches to satellite operators between other space objects and their own satellites.

Parikh further mentioned that space traffic management efforts have been moving forward at a relatively slow pace owing to the lack of research work and funding, as well as change of leadership.

With more funding on the way, the future seems to be brighter now. The organization has been investing their money where their mouth is. They have nearly 8x the budget in the president’s fiscal year 2023 budget, so that they can begin building the investments, as well as infrastructure and architecture. 

The Biden Administration has also requested about US$ 87.8 million, especially for the Office of Space Commerce that is to be used in 2023. It showcases a surge of approximately 800%, as compared to the previous year.

In February 2022, the Commerce Department had introduced an early prototype for a traffic software platform and space catalog that would offer traffic management services and basic situational awareness. Changing these already developed prototypes to fully operational systems is one of the top priorities for the commercial space sector. 

According to Boston Consulting Group analysts, the projected proliferation of both orbital debris and spacecraft is expected to further popel hazards. It would thus shed light on the urgent need for a comprehensive approach for the management of space traffic. It would also ensure sustainable growth of the commercial space sector in future years.

Furthermore, the Biden Administration, Parikh, and allied countries are set to continue to have discussions about this topic as problems are increasing day by day with rising congestions in orbits, which may lead to risks associated with space activities. 

Who tracks what? How will large constellations of satellites coexist together? These questions are yet to be answered by the organization.

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