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LeoLabs wins TraCSS Pathfinder contract

San Francisco-based LeoLabs has received a Consolidated Pathfinder order from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Space Commerce (OSC) for the development of the civil-led, national Traffic Coordination System for Space (TraCSS).

Through this contract, OSC will be able to leverage LeoLabs’ in-house expertise, artificial intelligence techniques, and the largest commercial dataset of over 20,000 objects and millions of daily conjunction data messages.

The LeoLabs contract is part of the Consolidated Pathfinder project by OSC, a limited-term effort that focuses on SSA for the low Earth orbit (LEO) regime. To execute the pathfinder, OSC placed orders with three US commercial space companies for space situational awareness (SSA) data and services.

The project will assess industry capabilities to maintain a space object catalogue for a subset of LEO objects and provide follow-up tracking data on close approaches among those objects. OSC placed Consolidated Pathfinder orders with two companies besides LeoLabs:

  • COMSPOC of Exton, PA, for the provision of orbit determination services;
  • Slingshot Aerospace of El Segundo, CA, for SSA data and services focused on the LEO regime.

“Just as air traffic management is critical for flight safety, space traffic coordination is critical for space safety,” said LeoLabs Chief Executive Officer Dan Ceperley. “The number of satellites in LEO grew by [about] 45% in 2023 and is expected to grow by an additional 35% [approximately] in 2024. This, coupled with the growth of space debris, means more coordination is needed to prevent collisions. LeoLabs is delighted to be a foundational layer of the US Traffic Coordination System for Space, the world’s most advanced system enabling enhanced space safety and sustainability.”

The Consolidated Pathfinder is the first of a series of pathfinder projects aimed at supporting the development of TraCSS. This order demonstrates the rapid progress made by the US Government in developing this system and fulfilling Space Policy Directive-3 (SPD-3), which calls for the development of a national STM service managed by a civil government agency.

OSC is developing TraCSS as a modern, cloud-based IT system that will provide basic SSA and space traffic coordination services to commercial and civil space operators for spaceflight safety, space sustainability, and international coordination. OSC is steadily progressing on building out the TraCSS architecture, with multiple inputs and on-ramps for commercial data, services, software, and innovation.

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