VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. — The 18th Space Defense Squadron (18 SDS) hosted five French space operators from the Operational Center for Military Surveillance of Space Objects (COSMOS) to integrate Space Domain Awareness (SDA) expertise during an ‘Operator Exchange’ here Oct. 3-6, 2022.
The 4-day event, facilitated by the 18 SDS’s Space Situational Awareness Partnership and Coalition Engagement (SPACE) office, aimed to advance global SDA between the two groups by exchanging common practices, spotlighting mission capabilities, and explaining methodologies of their respective programs.
“The value of the Operator Exchange is that it’s operators learning from other operators,” said Diana McKissock, Director, 18 SDS SPACE office. “Meeting face-to-face gives us the opportunity to build relationships above and beyond what we do by email and telecons, which has lasting and mutual benefit to daily operations.”
COSMOS, located at Lyon-Mont Verdun Air Base near Paris, manages space surveillance and the transmission of state information on national security for France.
Similarly, the 18 SDS executes U.S. Space Command’s SDA mission, including command and control of the U.S. Space Surveillance Network, and is also responsible for the SSA Sharing program, which provides data of resident space objects to commercial, international and academic partners.
“Working with coalition partners assists the U.S. in gaining a better understanding of the space domain,” said U.S. Space Force Sgt. Brianna Vincent, 18 SDS SSA sharing coordinator and lead planner for the COSMOS exchange. “The data collected is used to assist with launch processing, reentry prediction, conjunction assessment, maneuver detection and a variety of other mission sets.”
According to www.space-track.org, 18 SDS’s official website for tracking objects in space, there are approximately 47,500 objects continuously being monitored and accounted for currently, a number that is continually growing at an unprecedented rate.
Knowing this, Vincent added that the ability to share data amongst coalition partners significantly helps strengthen the international relationships between teams and increases SDA as the space warfighting domain continues to expand.
“With the help of operational custody of space objects from the coalition partners, we are able to advance together as a whole and maintain the upper hand against our adversaries,” Vincent said.
The exchange covered mission planning, an overview of systems, crew structure and more. The week concluded with a tour of Space Launch Complex-6.
“The COSMOS team brought a unique perspective and problem-solving methodology to the challenging problems in the space domain,” said 1st Lt. Dustin Pessatore, 18 SDS SSA sharing coordinator. “We constantly take feedback and improve the exchanges to make them as valuable as possible. We look forward to continuing and expanding the program to more partner nations.”