Romania has joined Australia and 18 other nations to sign a space situational awareness (SSA) agreement with the US Strategic Command.
That was the 100th SSA signed with USSTRATCOM – two are with intergovernmental organisations, the European Space Agency and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, and the remaining 78 agreements are with commercial satellite owners, operator and launchers.
Signatory nations are Australia, Japan, Italy, Canada, France, South Korea, the UK, Germany, Israel, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Brazil, the Netherlands, Thailand, New Zealand, Poland and now Romania.
USSTRATCOM said these data sharing agreements foster openness, predictability of space operations and transparency in space activities.
In 2011, USSTRATCOM was delegated responsibility for signing SSA agreements on behalf of the US government with governmental agencies and commercial satellite owners and operators.
Signatories agree to provide SSA space information such as conjunction assessment, launches, de-orbits and re-entry. USSTRATCOM deputy Vice Admiral Dave Kriete said signing the 100th SSA agreement was an enormous milestone.
“Effective monitoring and space situational awareness requires co-operation – we cannot do it alone,” he said.
“We encourage others to join us. Agreements like these build our relationships and allow the space community to be more effective in space activities, enhancing the safety of space for all nations.
“USSTRATCOM will continue to work with all responsible space-faring nations to ensure a safe, secure, sustainable and stable space environment.”
USSTRATCOM director of plans and policy Rear Admiral Richard Correll said space situational awareness agreements formalise relationships with other nations and were crucial to normalising future space operations.
“As space becomes more contested, agreements like these move us closer to creating norms for space activities,” he said.
President of the Romanian Space Agency Marius-Ioan Piso said the agreement with USSTRATCOM was a cornerstone of Romania’s present and future developments in space surveillance and tracking.
“For the past decade, the Romanian Space Agency has constantly been investing in Space Safety projects and programs, being aware of the importance of space assets as critical infrastructure for our society,” he said.
“In this context, this agreement is at the core of our SSA efforts, but also an important step forward, built upon a long-term collaboration between Romania and the United States.”
Dr Piso said Romania was one of the first eastern European countries to sign agreements to collaborate with NASA in the '70s. That involved processing images from US satellites.
Currently, Romania and the US collaborate in space exploration, the International Space Station, nano-satellites and planetary defence, as well as on space applications for agriculture, telemedicine and disaster monitoring.
Australia was an early signatory, signing an SSA agreement with USSTRATCOM in 2013. Australia and the US agreed to co-operate on space at the Australia-US Ministerial (AUSMIN) meeting in 2010.
As space becomes more and more crowded and more nations start to launch their own satellites, SSA – knowing what’s out there so collisions and interference can be avoided – has become increasingly important.
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