Final Report Summary - STEP (Support to the developmenT of a European SSA caPability)
The development of a European Space Situational Awareness (SSA) capability will protect European space assets providing economic, social and strategic benefits to the EU and its Member States. SSA represents a priority of the European Space Policy and is fully aligned with the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union.
The European Union Satellite Centre (EU SatCen), an EU Agency linking space and security, has implemented the STEP (Support to the developmenT of a European SSA caPability) FP7 support action (Grant Agreement No. 312249, theme SPA.2010.2.3-2: Security of space assets from on-orbit collisions). The EU SatCen has capitalized on its existing assets, its distinctive technical expertise on SSA and unique background in data security policies for handling of commercial and governmental data.
STEP has facilitated a dialogue among key SSA stakeholders and contributed to the creation of a common understanding of organisational and governance issues. It has supported, from a technical perspective, the development of a European SSA-SST (Space Surveillance and Tracking) data policy, in particular elaborating on required coordinated information exchanges, data handling processes, operational interfaces and best practices.
STEP has been structured in an incremental and iterative manner. The analysis of tackled topics, namely “SST service delivery”, “interoperability framework” and “integration of unclassified sensors”, has progressed from an interim analysis (deskwork) and the identification of and contact with relevant users/stakeholders (fieldwork) to result’s validation by representative stakeholders. The initial selection of the STEP´s topics benefited from the expertise gained through the SPA (Support to Precursor SSA services) FP7 support action. The performed analysis has been steered according to the stakeholders’ feedback collected during devoted workshops organised at the end of each project iteration.
The evolving text of the Commission proposal for a SST support programme and the EU Decision on a framework for SST support, which resulted from the legislative process, have represented a constant point of reference for the development of STEP.
The STEP´s analysis has been reinforced through scenario based assessment including the simulation of five indicative SSA-SST services (over-flight, conjunction warning, re-entry prediction, catalogue, and object fragmentation services), which allowed an efficient and hands-on appreciation of organisational data policy issues.
The analysis on service delivery has addressed general data policy aspects related to the delivery of SST services to users. STEP has performed an initial characterisation of the different user communities, reflecting their different nature and needs, and the expected influence on the data policy of a future SSA-SST capability. Additionally, STEP has provided inputs to facilitate the setup of such capability by identifying representative users for each service and by defining sample interfaces for the identification of SST services’ needs.
The analysis on interoperability has considered the extensible nature of an architecture which involved contributions from different stakeholders with different roles at MS, EU and third party levels. STEP has identified the main components and aspects of a European SST capability interoperability framework, which may be used to support the definition of a SSA-SST data policy. Additionally, the analysis may serve to facilitate the setup of rules of cooperation and interoperation between involved entities.
The analysis on integration of unclassified sensors has reflected the potential utilisation of sensors not capable of handling classified information to achieve the desired SST information quality. STEP has elaborated on a set of different integration scenarios of such sensors. The outcome of the STEP analysis may serve to elaborate on data policy aspects by listing possible sensor data classification options and associated sensor integration possibilities within an SSA-SST capability.
STEP has also identified complementary elements of a SSA-SST data policy considering international space law. Specifically, a European SST capability might support the management of events which involve State responsibility for national space activities and international liability for damage caused by space objects.
The STEP project activities have been performed under the full control of the EU Member States and in collaboration with the European Commission, the European Defence Agency, the European External Action Service and the European Space Agency. Moreover, the STEP’s outcomes have been promoted and disseminated, in a controlled manner, to institutions, SSA interested parties and the general public.
The acquired expertise on SSA-SST as well as the development of tools during the STEP project have enhanced the core business of the SatCen and benefited its users, highlighting the value of STEP from an operational perspective.
As a follow on activity, the PASS (Preparation for the establishment of a European SST Service provision function) support action is foreseen to start on 1 September 2014 and to last twenty four months. PASS intends to ensure the transition of the EU SatCen activities towards its contribution to the setup of a SST service provision function, by identifying necessary functional elements, security provisions and interfaces with relevant SST actors, supported by the development of a SST service provision function pilot.
Project Context and Objectives:
The EU SatCen through the STEP support action has offered a unique environment to discuss the SSA challenging issues covering simultaneously institutional, national, civilian, military and technical actors contributing infrastructure elements of SSA.
STEP has strived to catalyse a common understanding of technical challenges to SSA through an organised dialogue between key SSA Stakeholders. This technical dialogue enabled to bridge the gap between decision makers and technical audiences.
STEP has followed an iterative methodology based on three iterations, allowing the steering of the analysis based on stakeholders feedback received during dedicated workshops.
The iterative logic driving the activities of the STEP project was as follows:
• In each iteration, an initial identification phase of particular topics to focus for that iteration has been performed, followed by the definition of relevant scenarios for the topic analysis. This has been completed by a detailed evaluation and analysis making use of STEP demonstrators.
• Then the iteration provided an analysis report supported by a compilation of informative technical notes. The scenario definition and emulation was then tailored to the topics to be analysed, considering relevant SSA-SST services and users.
• At the end of each iteration, the results obtained were presented during technical workshops to facilitate the dialog among involved SSA stakeholders. Dialog feedback and outputs were then collected steering STEP topic analysis for following iterations. SSA policy developments in Europe, namely the recent adopted “Decision of the European Parliament and the Council Establishing a Space Surveillance and Tracking Support Framework” [R15], were also implicit when steering the project.
This methodology has been supported and structured simultaneously by six work packages (WP), as also shown in, that are described in the following section with their respective objectives and outputs.
The overall STEP project objectives were to support the development of a European SSA-SST capability, tackling key data policy challenges, and facilitating the dialogue among key SSA stakeholders, catalysing a common understanding of organisational and governance issues. Results and recommendations obtained in project were then documented in the “D5.6 Final Study Report”.
More specifically, the project was structured six work packages with associated tasks and clearly identified milestones (also detailed in the management section 6). Each work package has been led by an expert in the respective knowledge field and assisted by other EU SatCen staff. The STEP work packages and their main objectives were:
• WP1 – Project Management, had the objective to ensure that the project was given a management level suitable to European Commission and REA standards.
• WP2 – SSA Capability Development Analysis had the objective to aid the development of a European SSA Capability and provide informed analysis to stakeholders regarding key challenges and data policy matters, such as coordinated information exchanges, data handling processes, operational interfaces and best practices for the implementation of an SSA capability in Europe.
• WP3 – Demonstrator Development had the objective to elaborate scenarios of interest encountered during the project and by feedback from stakeholders. By setting-up and executing these scenarios on a simulated SSA-SST demonstrator and benefit from the demonstrator environment to study, analyse and illustrate cases of particular concern; to document the results providing inputs to “WP2 – SSA Capability Development Analysis”.
• WP4 – Scenario Emulation had the objective to elaborate scenarios of concern or interest related with the analysis work performed in “WP2 – SSA Capability Development Analysis” and by feedback from stakeholders. The scenarios were executed on the supporting demonstrator platform implemented in “WP3 – Demonstrator Development”.
• WP5 – Communication and Dissemination, had the objective to enable and facilitate on one hand the dialogue between the key SSA stakeholders and to disseminate on the other hand the STEP project activities to institutions, SSA interested parties/users and general public. “WP2 – SSA Capability Development Analysis”, “WP3 – Demonstrator Development” and “WP4 – Scenario Emulation” provided value-added inputs to this dialogue and also received feedback, allowing steering the project to focus on the most beneficial and pressing issues.
• WP6 – Technical Support had the objective to provide technical coordination and support for the proper management of the STEP project.
As specific outputs of these WPs, twenty seven deliverables were expected to be produced and delivered through the project duration, gathering the results achieved and recommendations for the development of a European SSA capability.
The STEP support action has produced a total of twenty seven deliverables, including informative/technical notes and reports on challenges and analysis for the development of a European SSA capability. Several deliverables have been updated and reissued up to three times (the number of project iterations) according to the iterative STEP methodology. Following is an outline of the STEP project technical results and achievements with respect to work package deliverable items.
• In the deliverable “D2.1 European SSA Initiative Status Report”, a revision of the current state of development of SSA in Europe and major aspects of international activity was performed. Including an analysis of the current Space & SSA Related Legislation topics in EU MS.
• The “D2.2 SSA Capability Development Analysis Report”, listed the relevant data policy topics and subtopics considered for analysis during STEP, containing consequent on the tackled topics.
• The deliverable “D2.3 Compilation of Informative / Technical Notes”, contains technical notes associated with the analysis of the relevant data policy topics (identified in the previous mentioned deliverable “D2.2 SSA Capability Analysis Report”):
- “Technical Note 1, SST Services User community definition”, presents the analysis work regarding the characterisation of SSA-SST services user communities. This characterisation addresses main data policy aspects such as community description, user registration requirements, access and service delivery governing rules as well as point of contacts and operational interfaces needs. It had a special focus on the European satellites population and respective operators and owners, to better understand its characteristics and how its segmented, identifying not only large operators with experienced in-house flight dynamic teams, but also research and small satellites, with limited SST information handling expertise and, in most cases, without control/manoeuvring capabilities. The note is completed with a list of relevant users for each community and a summary of collected user needs as result of contacts, that have occurred during the second and the third STEP iterations, with a particular focus on satellite operators for the SST conjunction service and civil protection authorities for the SST re-entry prediction service.
- “Technical Note 2, SST Services Sample Interfaces”, presents the work performed on the definition of two sample interfaces for the re-entry prediction and conjunction warning services as a tool to contribute to the development of a SST data policy. The sample SST service interfaces have been a tool to interact with representative SST users in order to gather their needs and to further identify functional capabilities of a future SST service provision function.
- “Technical Note 3, Interoperability and Standardisation”, presents the analysis work regarding the definition and constituents of an interoperability framework which can facilitate the setup of a European SSA capability by capitalising and build on existing assets in different participating entities. The analysis looks at different standards and best practices for establishing the framework by using an analysis methodology for defining the interoperability framework needs and proposing an interoperability maturity model which can help for defining an overall interoperability implementation roadmap.
- “Technical Note 4, Integration of Unclassified Sensors”, further analyses the potential utilisation of sensors not capable of handling classified data, considering currently applicable data policy context. A detailed overview of the different types of unclassified sensors which could be integrated is discussed, presenting the available options and scenarios for sensor integration and sensor data classification.
- “Technical Note 5, Responsibility and Liability within International Space Law”, worked on the international responsibility for national space activities and on the international liability for damage caused by space objects to provide an international space law perspective. The main purpose consisted in providing basic information concerning the international legal framework, the main legal concepts, the field of applicability, and of the subjects to which it applies, so as to possibly infer further relevant elements of data policy.
• The “D3.1 SSA-SST Indicative Services Definition Report” provides a description, processing details, example applications and recent relevant events for the following six indicative services; Satellite Over-Flight Service, Satellite Conjunction Warning Service, Space Object Re-Entry Prediction Service, Forecast of GNSS Accuracy Service, Catalogue of Space Objects Service and the Space Object Fragmentation Service (with the GNSS Accuracy service depreciated after receiving feedback from stakeholders).
The STEP SSA-SST services analysis was in line and compliant with the recent EU SST Support Framework decision], focusing on three mentioned services of the decision: Satellite Conjunction Warning, Space Object Re-Entry Prediction and the Space Object Fragmentation Services.
• “D3.2 Demonstrator Implementation Report”, provides an overview of the installation of demonstrator elements corresponding to the six indicative services mentioned before. With respect to demonstrator items tools, the following is a summary list indicating software packages used for demonstration purposes:
- Analytical Graphics, Inc (AGI), Orbit Determination Tool Kit (ODTK), v.6.2
- AGI, Satellite Tool Kit, version 10
- AGI Satellite Tool Kit Components
- AGI Conjunction Analysis Tool (CAT)
- Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) Java for Assessment of Conjunctions (JAC) Software package
- CNES Semi-analytic Tool for End of Life Analysis (STELA)
- ESA Meteoroid and Space Debris Terrestrial Environment Reference (MASTER) and Program for Radar and Observation Forecasting (PROFF) tools
- NASA Orbital Debris Engineering Model (ORDEM) tool
• The “D4.1a – Scenario Emulation Report” the identified scenarios of each data policy topic analysed, as identified in the deliverable “D2.2 SSA Capability Analysis Report”. It also includes detailed scenario evaluation considering representative SST services information flows described in deliverable “D3.1 SSA-SST Indicative Services Report”. The detail scenario analysis served as the basis for the technical note included in “D2.3 Compilation of Informative / Technical Notes” mentioned before, and data policy topic conclusions reported in the deliverable “D2.2 SSA Capability Analysis Report”.
• For the communication and dissemination activities the initial plan was documented in “D5.1 “Communication and Dissemination Plan”. Three workshops involving key stakeholders have been held and the results disseminated appropriately in the Workshop Reports (“D5.1 1st Workshop Report”, “D5.2 2nd Workshop Report” and “D5.4 Final Workshop Report”). A complete summary of achievements of the dissemination activities is documented in “D5.5 Summary of communication and dissemination activities”, and also presented in the section 3 of this document. In addition, the key deliverable output deliverable “D5.6 STEP Final Study report” has been submitted at the end of the project.
Communication and dissemination activities within the STEP project have aimed at facilitating the dialogue between key SSA stakeholders in Europe and disseminating project results to institutions, SSA interested parties and general public. For additional details, refer to D5.5b: “Summary of communication and dissemination activities Final Issue”.
In order to reach these two objectives, selected audiences have been carefully identified and addressed with tailored messages validated by different SSA actors. The key objective of STEP has been to contribute, from a technical perspective, to the development of a data policy which has facilitated the elaboration of coordinated information exchanges, data handling processes, operational interfaces and best practices for the implementation of a SSA capability in Europe.
Different communication and dissemination strategies have been implemented, based on appropriate tools and activities. As far as communication is concerned, technical discussion forum (a collaboration platform used to allow key SSA stakeholders to cooperate actively to the STEP project) and three technical workshops (seminars designed to drive STEP activities through the presentation of project results) have been put in place. Similarly, the STEP webpage (containing information on project objectives, methodology and expected outcomes) and several events (presentations and publications of the project results to a specific audience) have been performed for dissemination purposes.
Regarding the audience of the communication activities, all EU Member States have been invited to cooperate in the implementation of the STEP project and the interested parties have been invited to participate to the Technical Forum and the three Technical Workshops. Moreover, representatives from EC, EDA, EEAS and ESA have been also invited.
The 1st STEP Technical Workshop, organized at the SatCen on 14 May 2013 with thirteen external participants (BE, FR, GE, IT, SP, SW, EC, EDA, EUMS and ESA), has introduced the project objectives and methodology and presented the SST indicative services and the list of topics analysed during the first project iteration.
The 2nd STEP Technical Workshop, organized at the SatCen on 16 January 2014 with twelve external participants from Belgium (BE), France (FR), Germany (GE), Italy (IT), Spain (SP), United Kingdom (UK), EC, EEAS, EUMS and ESA, has summarised the status of the project and presented the second iteration of topics analysis (i.e. Service User Communities and Interoperability and Standardisation).
The 3rd STEP Technical Workshop, organized at the SatCen on 11 June 2014 with thirteen external participants (BE, FR, GE, IT, SW, UK, EDA and EEAS), has presented the STEP project results including the third and last iteration of topics analysis (i.e. sample users interfaces, international responsibility and liability and integration of unclassified sensors).
Concerning dissemination audience and results, the STEP website has received 5729 visits and the project has been presented to 156 SSA interested users. In addition, three articles, one abstract and one poster have been accepted and published in international conferences (i.e. 6th Space Debris Conference, 6th IAASS Conference, 5th EC Brochure, 7th IAASS Conference).
As a conclusion, communication and dissemination activities within the STEP project have been aligned with the Description of Work. STEP has been implemented under the full control of the EU Member States, and has contributed, from a technical perspective to the development of a SST data policy in Europe, in cooperation with EC, EDA, EEAS and ESA. Moreover, STEP dissemination activities have promoted and disseminated, in a controlled manner, the outcomes of the project to institutions, SSA interested parties and general public. They had maximized the impact of the project and allowed the collection of feedback and the refinement and evaluation of the STEP project results.
List of Websites: