UK and US Cooperation in Space Domain Awareness

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In recent years, the United Kingdom and the United States have been working closely together in the field of Space Domain Awareness (SDA), sharing intelligence and information to better understand and predict threats and incidents in space. This collaboration is part of a wider mutual military strategy between the two countries.

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The Memorandum of Understanding concerning Enhanced Space Cooperation (ESC MOU) is a new phase of collaboration between the UK and US. Signed by the commanders of US Space Command and UK Space Command in 2022, the agreement aims to harmonize military space requirements, increase joint activities, and promote the sharing of information, including in the field of SDA. While not legally binding, the ESC MOU provides a simpler and more straightforward way for these countries to collaborate and share knowledge in the future.

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Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey, commander of UK Space Command, emphasized the benefits of collaboration and the need for more cooperation in SDA. He highlighted the importance of understanding what is happening in space and explained that collaboration with the US and other allies helps build a comprehensive picture of space activities.

In addition to the ESC MOU, the UK established a space domain awareness cell in 2023 with the support and cooperation of the US. Known as the Joint Task Force-Space Defence Commercial Operations Cell, this cell enhances orbital surveillance and collects and shares data relevant to the space domain. It is part of the efforts by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and UK Ministry of Defence for SDA. The UK-led Joint Commercial Operations-Global (JCO-Global) program, in collaboration with the US, focuses on monitoring objects and launches in space using a wide range of research, commercial sensors, and analytical tools.

The Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) program is another example of UK-US collaboration in space. This program, which also includes Australia, aims to provide 24/7 capabilities to track objects in deep space. The memorandum between the three countries will last for 22 years, with the goal of being fully operational by the end of the decade. The DARC program focuses on higher sensitivity, greater accuracy, higher capacity, and more agile tracking of objects in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit.

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All of these initiatives highlight the growing importance of Space Domain Awareness. With the increasing presence of independent and commercial space companies, it is becoming more challenging to keep track of activities in space and identify potential threats. The collaboration between the UK and US, as well as their international partners, aims to protect their people and interests in space by enhancing their knowledge and capabilities.

Overall, the UK-US collaboration in Space Domain Awareness demonstrates the commitment of both countries to working together to understand and predict space threats. Through initiatives such as the ESC MOU, JCO-Global, and DARC, they aim to increase information sharing, enhance surveillance capabilities, and build a comprehensive picture of space activities. As space becomes more crowded and complex, this collaboration will be crucial in ensuring the safety and security of both nations and their allies.

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