NSpOC Civil Space Protection Services

Uk Space Agency

May 15
23:00 2024

Space is vital to life on Earth. Our increasing dependence on satellites for many aspects of our lives has led to an exponential increase in the number of objects in space, particularly in the orbits closest to our planet.

This, in turn, leads to greater risks from a range of space hazards including the uncontrolled re-entry of space payloads, in-space collisions with space debris/other satellites, space weather events, and asteroids and meteors approaching Earth. It is the role of the National Space Operations Centre to manage and mitigate these risks.

Our capabilities have grown rapidly in response to the changing space environment and UK space objectives. The UK Space Agency has worked alongside the Ministry of Defence and other departments and international partners to help ensure the protection of the UKs space assets and shape our ability to observe activity in space.

Monitoring Space Hazards

Through our warning and protection service, eligible users are able to track space risks and hazards including:

UK Uncontrolled Re-Entry Early Warning System

The UK Space Agency through the National Space Operations Centre is responsible for monitoring uncontrolled re-entries of space objects that might pose a risk to the UK or the UK Overseas Territories, as well as the re-entry of UK licensed objects. On average, we monitor about 30 re-entry events per month to help keep the UK and the Overseas Territories safe from objects that survive re-entry and impact Earth.

UK In-Space Collision Avoidance System

In 2022, we launched the in-space collision avoidance service - Monitor Your Satellites. Monitor Your Satellites protects UK-licensed satellites (registered with the service) from collisions with space debris and other satellites.

Satellite owners can ask UK Space Agency analysts at NSpOC for additional information on specific collision risks and soon we plan to provide operators with information to inform the most effective anti-collision avoidance manoeuvre pathways, ensuring that avoiding one collision risk does not increase the risk from another object.

UK In-Space Fragmentation Warning and Monitoring Service

Objects in orbit are travelling at extremely high speeds and when a collision occurs, it can create large amounts of debris. Debris like this will then go on to affect other orbits and other objects. Fragmentation can also occur from accidents such as exploding fuel tanks (which can occur if they have not been de-pressurised)and from incidents such as anti-satellite missile launches.

Being able to model and track fragmentation events is an essential protection service for satellites and space missions. The UK Space Agency, through NSpOC, is responsible for fragmentation alerting, monitoring, and modelling, as well as the associated collision risks via the Monitor Your Satellites service.

Space Weather Alerts

The Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC) provides NSpOC and the public with timely alerts regarding space weather events. It is important to monitor these types of events as they can disrupt satellite communications, impact on capabilities used to locate and track satellites and even damage satellite equipment.Learn more about the space weather services NSpOC provides.

UK satellite monitoring service for the Civil Aviation Authority

The UK Space Agency, through NSpOC, is working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to support its satellite licensing activities. We currently provide the CAA with data on the locations of UK-licensed satellites and plan to enhance this service under NSpOC.

Note: We use both descriptive and Government Digital Service official names for our services. In this article, for ease of understanding, we have used descriptive terminology. The official names of our digital services are as outlined in the table below.

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Description Official name
UK Uncontrolled Re-Entry Early Warning System Track Re-entry Events
UK In-Space Collision Avoidance System Track Conjunction Events (Monitor Your Satellites)
UK satellite activity monitoring service for the CAA Track UK Satellite Activity
UK In-Space Fragmentation Warning and Monitoring Service Track Fragmentation Events
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