What is EU SST?
The safety and security of European economies, societies and citizens rely on space-based applications such as communication, navigation and observation. However, due to the growing complexity of the orbital environment, space-based assets are increasingly at risk from collision with other operational spacecraft or debris. At the same time, objects may re-enter and cause damage on the ground. To mitigate these risks, we need to be able to survey and track such objects, and to provide this information to a variety of stakeholders.
The Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) Support Framework was established by the EU in 2014 with the Decision 541/2014/EU of the European Parliament and the Council. This Decision foresaw the establishment of an SST Consortium, which evolved since its creation into a Consortium of seven EU Member States – France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Spain. An SST system is a network of ground-based and space-based sensors capable of surveying and tracking space objects, together with processing capabilities aiming to provide data, information and services on space objects that orbit around the Earth.
Since 2016, the SST Consortium and the European Union Satellite Centre (SatCen) have worked together to develop a European SST capability, and formed the SST Cooperation. The Consortium’s Member States have networked their assets to provide, through the SST Service Provision Portal operated by SatCen, a set of SST services to all EU countries, EU institutions, spacecraft owners and operators, and civil protection authorities. The SST services assess the risk of in-orbit collisions and uncontrolled re-entry of space debris into the Earth’s atmosphere, and detect and characterise in-orbit fragmentations.
In November 2022, a new SST Partnership of 15 Member States was signed. This Partnership, foreseen in the Regulation (EU) 2021/696 of the European Parliament and the Council of 28 April 2021 (the EU Space Regulation), builds on the good results achieved so far and targets continuity of activities and service provision, improvement of specialisation on expertise, and consideration of the duality and security dimension of SST.
The SST Consortium EU Member States are represented through their national designated entities: France (CNES), Germany (German Space Agency at DLR), Italy (ASI), Poland (POLSA), Portugal (PT MoD), Romania (ROSA) and Spain (CDTI). In addition, eight new Member States are now joining the EU SST Partnership: Austria (FFG), Czech Republic (MDCR), Denmark (RDAF), Finland (FMI), Greece (NOA), Latvia (IZM), the Netherlands (EZK) and Sweden (SNSA).