Published: Sept. 21, 2022

. . .The cooperative agreement represents a significant expansion of the relationship between Smead Aerospace and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate. Holzinger said the project will include ongoing collaboration and could evolve and change as the research develops.

“The region in, around, and affected by the Earth-Moon-Sun system has drastically increased in commercial activity and Department of Defense mission relevance over the last few years,” Holzinger said. “There are more and more missions going to the Moon – not just our missions but India, China, and Europe as well. That means there needs to be some sensible tracking and detection of what’s going on out there and this project addresses that crucial need directly.”

Holzinger said this area, called space domain awareness, is important for national defense and to ensure spaceflight safety and responsible behavior. Currently, the Air Force maintains tracking networks to actively catalog space vehicles to avoid collisions. However, these systems only work for spacecraft orbiting the Earth, not the Moon, and growing traffic in orbit around Earth has made collision avoidance increasingly complicated. . . .