The EU Space Surveillance and Tracking (EU SST) Partnership Agreement has officially entered into force on 11 November 2022. With this Partnership, EU SST builds on the good results achieved by the current consortium of seven Member States and targets continuity of activities and service provision, improvement of specialisation on expertise, and consideration of the duality and security dimension of SST.
The new EU SST Partnership replaces the EU SST Consortium created in 2015 and includes 15 EU Member States, represented by their Constituting National Entities. The current Member States of EU SST are:
- France – Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES),
- Germany – German Space Agency (DLR),
- Italy – Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI),
- Poland – Polish Space Agency (POLSA),
- Portugal – Ministry of National Defence (PT MoD),
- Romania – Romanian Space Agency (ROSA), and
- Spain – Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico y la Innovación (CDTI).
In addition, eight new Member States are now joining EU SST:
- Austria – Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG),
- Czech Republic – Ministry of Transport (MDCR),
- Denmark – Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF),
- Finland – Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI),
- Greece – National Observatory of Athens (NOA),
- Latvia – Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia (IZM),
- the Netherlands – Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK), and
- Sweden – Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA).
The Partnership’s Member States have joined forces and networked their national assets in the EU SST capability with the objective to improve EU SST’s performance and autonomy in the SSA domain.
The creation of the EU SST Partnership was foreseen in Regulation (EU) 2021/696 of the European Parliament and the Council of 28 April 2021 (the EU Space Regulation), where SST was established as a fully-fledged security subcomponent of the EU Space Programme. The SST Partnership Agreement is the result of a long process of discussions among Member States and evaluation by the European Commission according to strict criteria.
The EU SST Partnership has a new governance structure and organisational framework that includes the Steering and Security Committees, four Expert Teams (Operation of Sensors, Service Provision, Performance Monitoring and System Evolution) as well as a Programme Office.
The responsibility to manage and operate the SST Front Desk will be transferred on 1 July 2023 from the European Union Satellite Centre (SatCen) to the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) – more specifically to EUSPA’s Galileo Security Monitoring Centre (GSMC) in Madrid –, which was selected as the new SST Front Desk following a Commission’s Decision of 3 June 2022.
The main objectives of the Partnership are to:
- deliver operational public SST services to users through a service provision model based on the best available expertise in Europe to ensure a minimum level of safety in space (Collision Avoidance by France and Spain, Fragmentation Analysis and Re-entry Analysis by Italy, the EU SST Database and future EU SST Catalogue by Germany);
- achieve a higher level of European strategic autonomy in space surveillance and tracking of space objects in all orbit regimes with an incremental approach;
- foster innovation and competitiveness of the European industry and start-ups ecosystem in the SSA domain, reinforcing strategic autonomy in Europe;
- exploit synergies between civil and defence taking into account the security interests of the respective partners and their allies.
Pascal Faucher, Chair of EU SST, stated that “the expansion of our model from a Consortium to a Partnership is the signal of a high level of political awareness on the importance of Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Traffic Management (STM). This expansion also indicates that a growing number of Member States invests in space surveillance capabilities at national level. Europe is committed to contribute to global burden-sharing in the SSA domain and to ensure the safety and long-term sustainability of space activities while achieving strategic autonomy.”
As part of the Space Situational Awareness component of the EU Space Programme, EU SST is the key operational capability for the EU’s future approach to Space Traffic Management. EU SST is continuously working on improving its sensors network and data processing capabilities as well as on developing new services to support space debris mitigation and remediation.