For the implementation of the EU SST Support Framework, established in 2014 with the SST Decision, the SST Consortium of currently seven* EU Member States (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Spain) signed an SST Implementing Arrangement with the European Union Satellite Centre (SatCen) forming the SST Cooperation.
The SST Cooperation since its initial establishment in 2015 has been gradually developing the SST capability with the support of the European Union under different funding lines (H2020, Galileo & Copernicus programmes).
The SST capability consists of three main functions: sensor, processing and service provision. Sensors from Member States contribute data that is analysed in the processing function and feeds a joint database and ultimately a catalogue; from this, products are derived for three services, generated by the Operations Centres (OCs) and delivered to users via the SST Service Provision Portal (SST Portal).
The Sensor function consists of a network of sensors to survey and track space objects in all orbital regimes (LEO, MEO, HEO and GEO). The network currently comprises 49 sensors of the Member States of the SST Consortium (incl. radars, telescopes and laser ranging stations).
EU SST Sensors Network (May 2021)
The Processing function aims to coordinate between the OCs, the data-sharing and processing & analysing of shared data to generate the future EU SST Catalogue. Every day, for all orbital regimes, thousands of measurements from the sensors contributing to EU SST are shared via a common database accessible to the OCs. This data constitutes the basis for a future EU SST Catalogue that will be used for the SST services. Germany is responsible for hosting the EU SST database and generating the future EU SST Catalogue.
The Service Provision function is in charge of providing three SST services – Collision Avoidance (CA), Re-entry Analysis (RE) and Fragmentation Analysis (FG) – to entitled users through a secure portal, the SST Service Provision Portal, managed by the SatCen, which acts as Front Desk. Approximately 100 organisations are receiving these services and more than 200 European satellites are safeguarded from the risk of collision. Currently, the French and Spanish OCs are responsible for the CA service, while the Italian OC is in charge of the RE and FG services.
EU SST Architecture
The three aforementioned functions and the SST services provided continue being developed with the support of the European Union towards an autonomous European capability able to safeguard the European economies, societies and citizens that rely on space-based applications such as communication, navigation and observation.
*The United Kingdom was an initial member of the SST Consortium and SST Cooperation. Currently, it no longer forms part of them, following the Commission Decision C(2020) 6634 final and Annex of 02.10.2020 on the application of Article 127(7)(b) of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community to certain information exchanges, procedures and programmes which grant access to security-related sensitive information.