oversight

Space Surveillance: DOD and NASA Need Consolidated Requirements and a Coordinated Plan

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-12-01.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                  United States General Accounting Office

GAO               Report to Congressional Requesters




December 1997
                  SPACE
                  SURVEILLANCE
                  DOD and NASA Need
                  Consolidated
                  Requirements and a
                  Coordinated Plan




GAO/NSIAD-98-42
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      National Security and
      International Affairs Division

      B-275848

      December 1, 1997

      The Honorable Dana Rohrabacher
      Chairman
      The Honorable Robert E. Cramer, Jr.
      Ranking Minority Member
      Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics
      Committee on Science
      House of Representatives

      In response to your request, this report discusses (1) the Department of Defense’s (DOD) and the
      National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) requirements for surveillance of space
      objects and (2) DOD’s space surveillance capabilities to support these requirements. This report
      contains recommendations to the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of NASA.

      We are sending copies of this report to the Secretaries of Defense, the Air Force, the Navy, and
      the Army; the Administrator of NASA; the Directors of the Office of Management and Budget, the
      Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Central Intelligence; and other interested
      congressional committees. Copies will be made available to others upon request.

      If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please call me at (202) 512-4841.
      Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix IV.




      Louis J. Rodrigues
      Director, Defense Acquisitions Issues
Executive Summary


             During the past 40 years, the number of manmade space objects orbiting
Purpose      the earth—active and inactive satellites and debris generated from launch
             vehicle and satellite breakups—has increased dramatically. Knowing what
             objects are in space and their locations are important because of the
             (1) implications of foreign satellite threats to U.S. national security and
             (2) hazards that such objects create for multibillion dollar space programs,
             especially large ones such as the International Space Station.

             At the request of the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member,
             Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, House Committee on Science,
             GAO is providing this report on the Department of Defense’s (DOD) and the
             National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) space surveillance
             requirements and DOD’s space surveillance capabilities. GAO evaluated
             (1) how well DOD’s existing surveillance capabilities support DOD’s and
             NASA’s current and future surveillance requirements and (2) the extent to
             which potential surveillance capabilities and technologies are coordinated
             to provide opportunities for improvements.


             According to a National Science and Technology Council report,1 an
Background   estimated 35 million manmade space objects are orbiting the earth. Of
             these objects, only about 8,000 can be routinely observed by DOD’s existing
             space surveillance sensors. DOD and the intelligence community are
             interested in knowing the type, status, and location of space objects,
             particularly foreign satellites, as part of DOD’s space control mission and
             other national security functions.2 NASA is interested in accurate and timely
             information on the location and orbits of space objects to predict and
             prevent collisions with spacecraft designed for human space flight—the
             space station and space shuttles.

             DOD and NASA rely on the U.S. Space Command’s Space Surveillance
             Network, which is operated and maintained by the Air Force, Naval, and
             Army Space Commands, to provide information on space objects. The
             network, consisting of radar and optical sensors, data processing
             capabilities, and supporting communication systems, detects space


             1
              This Council was established by the President in 1993 to coordinate science, space, and technology
             policies throughout the federal government. The President is the Council Chairman, and membership
             includes the Vice President and cabinet-level and other federal agency officials. See Interagency
             Report on Orbital Debris, November 1995.
             2
              The space control mission includes four functions: surveillance to provide awareness of all activities
             in space; protection to ensure U.S. space system survivability; prevention to preclude an adversary the
             use of U.S. or third-party space systems, capabilities, and products; and, when directed, negation to
             deny adversaries the use of their space systems.



             Page 2                                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                   Executive Summary




                   objects; tracks them to determine their orbits; and characterizes them to
                   determine their size, shape, motion, and type. This information is
                   transmitted from the sensors to two command centers for processing and
                   maintained in a catalog, which is used for such purposes as monitoring
                   foreign satellites and analyzing space debris.


                   DOD’s existing space surveillance network is not capable of providing the
Results in Brief   information NASA needs to adequately predict collisions between space
                   objects orbiting the earth and multibillion dollar space programs such as
                   the space station. Moreover, the existing network cannot satisfy DOD’s
                   emerging space surveillance requirements, which are currently under
                   review.

                   DOD’splans to (1) modernize an existing surveillance network radar
                   system and (2) develop three new ballistic missile warning systems, which
                   could contribute to performing the surveillance function, do not
                   adequately consider DOD’s or NASA’s surveillance requirements. These four
                   systems are separately managed by the Navy, the Air Force, and the Army.
                   An opportunity exists to consider these systems’ potential capabilities to
                   enhance the surveillance network to better satisfy requirements and
                   achieve greater benefits from planned investment in space sensor
                   technology.

                   Despite NASA’s dependency on DOD to provide space object information, the
                   1996 National Space Policy makes no provision for an interagency
                   mechanism—either organizational or funding—to ensure that DOD’s
                   surveillance capabilities satisfy NASA’s requirements. Overall, there is no
                   authoritative direction, formal agreement, or clear plan on how DOD and
                   NASA could consolidate their space surveillance requirements for a
                   common capability. A coordinated interagency plan that considers all
                   existing and planned space surveillance capabilities could be beneficial in
                   making cost-effective decisions to satisfy a consolidated set of national
                   security and civil space surveillance requirements. Unless DOD and NASA
                   can agree on such a plan, an opportunity may be missed to simultaneously
                   (1) achieve efficiencies; (2) better ensure the safety of the planned
                   multibillion dollar space station; and (3) help satisfy national security
                   needs, including the U.S. forces’ future needs for space asset information.




                   Page 3                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                            Executive Summary




Principal Findings

Existing Network Cannot     The U.S. Space Command cannot satisfy NASA’s space surveillance
Satisfy Emerging            requirements with the existing surveillance network. One
Surveillance Requirements   requirement—detecting and tracking space objects as small as
                            1 centimeter—is linked to the potentially catastrophic effect of a collision
                            between such an object and the space station. Another
                            requirement—locating space objects more accurately—is not currently
                            possible because the network’s sensors and processing capability and
                            capacity are insufficient, and DOD does not have a program to measure
                            object location accuracy. These deficiencies necessitate an upgraded
                            capability to the surveillance network.

                            In August 1997, NASA provided surveillance requirements to the U.S. Space
                            Command that are commensurate with NASA’s responsibilities to ensure
                            the safety of human space flight. According to the NASA Administrator,
                            these requirements reflect NASA’s needs to minimize risk to human and
                            robotic space flight and assist in recovery from mishaps of both domestic
                            and foreign spacecraft. However, DOD and NASA have not reached
                            agreement regarding how to satisfy these requirements.

                            DOD’s existing space surveillance requirements have been repeatedly
                            studied and will likely become more stringent to address emerging needs
                            regarding future threats. DOD is concerned about timely warning to U.S.
                            forces when a foreign satellite becomes a threat to military operations.
                            With larger numbers of smaller size satellites (known as microsatellites)
                            expected in the future, DOD believes the space surveillance mission will
                            become more difficult to execute. DOD is currently reviewing its
                            requirements.


Potential Surveillance      Four systems, which are managed separately by the military services,
Capabilities Are Not        could be upgraded or designed to support surveillance functions. These
Sufficiently Coordinated    systems are an operational Navy-funded space surveillance system and an
                            Air Force- and two Army-funded developmental systems associated with
                            ballistic missile defense. However, there is a lack of coordination—both
                            within DOD and between DOD and NASA—to take advantage of these
                            systems’ potential contribution to space surveillance for serving both
                            national security and civil space sectors.




                            Page 4                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                      Executive Summary




                      DOD’s Space Architect organization has a key role in evaluating national
                      security space missions and capabilities for achieving acquisition and
                      operational efficiencies.3 Although it does not have a similar responsibility
                      for evaluating civil space needs, NASA could participate with the DOD Space
                      Architect organization in evaluating space surveillance needs from a
                      broader perspective.


                      GAO   recommends that the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of
Recommendations       NASA,  in consultation with the Director of Central Intelligence,

                  •   establish a consolidated set of governmentwide space surveillance
                      requirements for evaluating current capabilities and future architectures to
                      support NASA’s, DOD’s, and other federal agencies’ space programs and
                      surveillance information needs and
                  •   develop a coordinated governmentwide space surveillance plan that
                      (1) sets forth and evaluates all feasible alternative capabilities to support
                      human space flight and emerging national security requirements and
                      (2) ensures that any planned funding for space surveillance upgrades is
                      directed toward satisfying consolidated governmentwide requirements.


                      Both DOD and NASA provided written comments on a draft of this report.
Agency Comments       Their comments appear in appendixes II and III, respectively.

                      DOD generally agreed with GAO’s recommendations. While DOD supports a
                      governmentwide group to consolidate requirements, it emphasized the
                      need for each organization to first establish individual requirements and
                      then proceed with consolidating the requirements and sharing the cost for
                      satisfying them. It noted that an interagency group will be required to
                      develop a near-term policy on cost or burden sharing and a long-term
                      policy for government and commercial organizations that may request
                      space surveillance support. Also, DOD agreed with an interagency approach
                      to evaluate existing capabilities, plan future architectures, and address
                      funding responsibilities.

                      Although NASA did not comment on GAO’s recommendations, it stated that,
                      overall, the draft report was an accurate representation of the national
                      requirements for space surveillance (particularly DOD’s and NASA’s) and

                      3
                       The purpose of the Space Architect organization is to consolidate the responsibilities for DOD space
                      missions and system architecture development into a single organization to achieve acquisition and
                      future operational efficiencies. The Architect also performs this function with the intelligence
                      community to support national security requirements.



                      Page 5                                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Executive Summary




DOD’s  current space surveillance network capabilities. NASA emphasized
that, in August 1997, the NASA Administrator provided the U.S. Space
Command with quantified space surveillance requirements. It stated that,
although most of the near-term requirements are being met, three are not
presently being satisfied: detecting and tracking relatively small space
objects and more accurately determining the location of such objects, as
discussed in this report, and notifying NASA of a space object breakup
within 1 hour.

Concerning DOD’s and NASA’s comments about the need for a process to
address requirements, the agencies have the Aeronautics and Astronautics
Coordinating Board—a senior management review and advisory
body—that could oversee the establishment of space surveillance
requirements and the development of a space surveillance plan. The Board
exists to facilitate coordination of aeronautics and space activities of
mutual interest to DOD and NASA. It was established several years ago, and
the memorandum of agreement was renewed in 1993 by the Deputy
Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of NASA. The Director, National
Reconnaissance Office, is 1 of 18 members on the Board.

Finally, DOD stated that delaying space surveillance programs, which it has
funded to meet DOD requirements, to insert NASA’s recently provided
requirements would result in increased cost and schedule risk. GAO
recognizes that some funds may be needed for system maintenance and
modernization and therefore modified its recommendation to only address
system upgrades. GAO believes that any funding for such upgrades should
be directed toward satisfying consolidated governmentwide requirements.




Page 6                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Page 7   GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Contents



Executive Summary                                                                                     2


Chapter 1                                                                                            10
                         Surveillance Network Functions                                              10
Introduction             Surveillance Network Evolution                                              11
                         National Space Policy Guidelines                                            12
                         Increasing Attention to Space Surveillance                                  12
                         Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                          14

Chapter 2                                                                                            16
                         NASA’s Requirements to Protect the Space Station Are Stringent              16
Existing Network         DOD’s Requirements Are Under Review and Likely to Become                    18
Cannot Satisfy             More Stringent
                         Process for Establishing Consolidated Requirements Is Not Clear             19
Emerging Surveillance    Conclusions                                                                 19
Requirements             Recommendation                                                              20

Chapter 3                                                                                            21
                         Radar System Plan Does Not Address Emerging Surveillance                    21
Potential Surveillance     Requirements
Capabilities Are Not     Missile Warning Plans Do Not Address Emerging Surveillance                  21
                           Requirements
Sufficiently             Lack of a Coordinated Plan                                                  23
Coordinated              Conclusions                                                                 24
                         Recommendation                                                              24

Appendixes               Appendix I: Surveillance Network Composition and                            26
                           Characteristics
                         Appendix II: Comments From the Department of Defense                        28
                         Appendix III: Comments From the National Aeronautics and                    32
                           Space Administration
                         Appendix IV: Major Contributors to This Report                              36

Related GAO Products                                                                                 40


Table                    Table I.1: Space Surveillance Sensor Locations, Types, and                  27
                           Detection Ranges




                         Page 8                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Contents




Abbreviations

DOD        Department of Defense
GAO        General Accounting Office
GBR        Ground-Based Radar
NASA       National Aeronautics and Space Administration
SBIRS      Space-Based Infrared System
THAAD      Theater High-Altitude Air Defense


Page 9                                    GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Chapter 1

Introduction


                       Since the former Soviet Union launched its first Sputnik satellite 40 years
                       ago, the number of manmade space objects orbiting the earth—active and
                       inactive satellites and debris generated from launch vehicle and satellite
                       breakups—has increased dramatically. In 1995, a National Science and
                       Technology Council report estimated the number of space objects to be
                       over 35 million. Although nearly all of these objects are thought to be
                       smaller than 1 centimeter, about 110,000 are estimated to be between
                       1 and 10 centimeters, and about 8,000 are larger than 10 centimeters. Only
                       the approximate 8,000 objects are large enough, or reflect radar energy or
                       light well enough, to be routinely observed by the Department of Defense’s
                       (DOD) existing space surveillance sensors. About 80 percent of these 8,000
                       objects are in low-earth orbits, and the remainder are in geosynchronous
                       and other orbits.1

                       The increasing amount of space debris creates a hazard to certain
                       spacecraft, especially large ones like the planned multibillion dollar
                       International Space Station,2 which will operate in low-earth orbits. The
                       National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is interested in
                       accurate and timely information on the locations and orbits of space
                       objects to predict and prevent collisions with spacecraft designed for
                       human space flight—the space station and space shuttles. DOD and
                       intelligence agencies are interested in knowing the type, status, and
                       location of space objects, particularly foreign satellites, as part of DOD’s
                       space control mission and other national security functions. NASA and DOD
                       rely on the U.S. Space Command’s Space Surveillance Network, which is
                       operated and maintained by the Air Force, Naval, and Army Space
                       Commands, to provide information on space objects.


                       The surveillance network consists of radar and optical sensors, data
Surveillance Network   processing capabilities, and supporting communication systems. It detects
Functions              objects in space; tracks them to determine their orbits; and characterizes
                       them to determine their size, shape, motion, and type. The network


                       1
                        Low-earth orbits are at altitudes less than 5,500 kilometers. A geosynchronous orbit is at an altitude of
                       about 36,000 kilometers.
                       2
                        In Space Station: Estimated Total U.S. Funding Requirements (GAO/NSIAD-95-163, June 12, 1995), we
                       reported that the space station would cost about $58 billion from program inception in 1985 through
                       final assembly in space in June 2002. This cost estimate consisted of (1) $11.2 billion spent from 1985
                       through 1993 for designing and developing earlier versions; (2) $17.4 billion to be spent from 1994 to
                       2002 to complete assembly of the current design; and (3) $19.6 billion to be spent to 2002 for
                       station-related requirements, such as space shuttle launch support. In addition, $9.4 billion was
                       expected to be spent to 2002 by international partners, other than Russia. Finally, $45.7 billion was
                       estimated to support 10 years of operations after 2002. NASA is updating its cost estimates, and we are
                       reviewing them.



                       Page 10                                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                       Chapter 1
                       Introduction




                       routinely detects and tracks objects larger than about 30 centimeters
                       (somewhat larger than a basketball). It can sometimes detect and track
                       objects as small as 10 centimeters (about the size of a softball), but not
                       routinely.

                       The surveillance network also catalogs the approximately 8,000 space
                       objects and includes information that describes the orbit, size, and type of
                       object. The information is used for such purposes as (1) warning U.S.
                       forces of foreign reconnaissance satellites passing overhead and
                       (2) analyzing the space debris environment and the potential implications
                       of planned space operations. All space sectors—defense, intelligence,
                       civil, and commercial—use the catalog information.


                       Subsequent to the launch of Sputnik in 1957, DOD established a space
Surveillance Network   tracking mission and a network of radars and telescopes to monitor
Evolution              orbiting satellites. During the 1960s, DOD built radars to support two
                       missions—space tracking and ballistic missile warning. The Naval Space
                       Surveillance System (known as the Fence) is a chain of radar equipment
                       extending from California to Georgia that was constructed to detect
                       foreign reconnaissance satellites and provide warning to Navy ships of
                       such satellite overflights. The system is still operational, and the Navy
                       plans to modernize it beginning in 2003 to improve its maintainability.
                       Also, Ballistic Missile Early Warning System radars were constructed in
                       Alaska, Greenland, and England to detect and track intercontinental
                       ballistic missiles that could be launched at North America. A secondary
                       mission for these missile warning radars has always been space
                       surveillance. Finally, a prototype phased-array radar was built in Florida to
                       support the space surveillance mission.

                       During the 1970s, the Air Force reactivated the Safeguard antiballistic
                       missile phased-array radar in North Dakota. This radar provides space
                       surveillance support as a secondary mission. Also, the Air Force began a
                       program to build four phased-array radars (called PAVE PAWS) to detect
                       and track submarine-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The
                       four radars—in Georgia, Texas, California, and Massachusetts—were
                       completed in the 1980s, but the Georgia and Texas radar sites were closed
                       in 1995. The radars in California and Massachusetts continue to operate
                       and support space surveillance as a secondary mission.

                       During the 1980s, DOD acquired four Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep
                       Space Surveillance telescopes to detect and track objects in



                       Page 11                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                        Chapter 1
                        Introduction




                        geosynchronous orbit because existing surveillance network sensors
                        could not detect objects at such a distance. These telescopes provide
                        nearly worldwide coverage but are limited to operating at night and in
                        clear weather. Three sites, located in New Mexico, Hawaii, and Diego
                        Garcia (in the Indian Ocean), are currently operational. A fourth site in
                        Korea was closed in 1993 due to poor tracking conditions.

                        The existing space surveillance network includes 31 radar and optical
                        sensors at 16 worldwide locations, a communications network, and
                        primary and alternate operations centers for data processing. Appendix I
                        discusses the surveillance network’s composition and characteristics.


                        The September 1996 National Space Policy includes civil, defense, and
National Space Policy   intersector guidelines related to space safety, space threats, and space
Guidelines              debris. Specifically, the policy (1) requires NASA to ensure the safety of all
                        space flight missions involving the space station and space shuttles;
                        (2) requires DOD to maintain and modernize space surveillance and
                        associated functions to effectively detect, track, categorize, monitor, and
                        characterize threats to U.S. and friendly space systems and contribute to
                        the protection of U.S. military activities; and (3) declares that the United
                        States will seek to minimize the creation of space debris and will take a
                        leadership role internationally, aimed at debris minimization.

                        A distinctive interconnection among these policy guidelines is that,
                        although the increasing amount of space debris creates a hazard to human
                        space flight, NASA has no surveillance capabilities to locate space objects.
                        Instead, it relies on DOD’s capabilities to perform this function. Despite this
                        dependency relationship, the policy makes no provision for an interagency
                        mechanism—either organizational or funding—to ensure that DOD’s space
                        surveillance capabilities meet NASA’s requirements.


                        The surveillance of space objects is receiving increasing attention from
Increasing Attention    both a civil and national security perspective. Part of the reason for the
to Space Surveillance   increased attention is because of (1) the planned assembly of the space
                        station beginning in 1998 and (2) DOD’s recognition that its aging space
                        surveillance network cannot adequately deal with future national security
                        threats. In addition, DOD believes that the growing commercial space
                        sector will result in increased requests for surveillance support.




                        Page 12                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                           Chapter 1
                           Introduction




Debris Creates Hazard to   According to the National Research Council,3 the chance of debris
Space Station              colliding with a spacecraft relates directly to the size and orbital lifetime of
                           the spacecraft. The space station will be the largest spacecraft ever built,
                           with length and width dimensions somewhat larger than a football field.
                           Its total exposed surface area will be almost 10 times greater than that of a
                           space shuttle—about 11,500 square meters compared with about
                           1,200 square meters. Also, the space station’s orbital lifetime is expected to
                           exceed that of a space shuttle. NASA plans to operate the space station
                           continuously for at least 10 years. In contrast, in recent years, individual
                           space shuttle missions have averaged about 7 per year and 11 days per
                           mission. In future years, NASA is planning about eight shuttle missions per
                           year. The Council concludes that the space station will face a significant
                           risk of being struck by potentially damaging meteoroids or orbital debris.

                           The space station is to operate at low-earth altitudes—between 330 to
                           500 kilometers. According to the National Science and Technology
                           Council, debris orbiting at altitudes up to about 900 kilometers lose energy
                           over time through friction with the atmosphere and fall to lower altitudes,
                           eventually either disintegrating in the atmosphere or falling to the earth.
                           New debris is periodically added, sometimes unexpectedly. For example,
                           in June 1996, a Pegasus rocket broke up at an altitude of about
                           625 kilometers, creating 668 observable objects. Also, it is likely that an
                           unknown number of other objects were created, but they are not
                           observable because of their small size. Such debris, as it falls toward the
                           earth, can be expected to pass through the space station’s operating
                           altitudes.


Potential for Increased    From a national security (defense and intelligence) perspective, space
Threats to U.S. Forces     surveillance provides (1) warning to U.S. forces when a foreign satellite
                           becomes a threat to military operations and (2) information to support
                           responsive measures. According to DOD, as the importance of space
                           services to U.S. forces increases and the size of satellites decreases, the
                           need for timely information about space objects expands. DOD has
                           acknowledged that its existing surveillance network is aging, requires
                           replacement or upgrades in the next 10 to 15 years, and is currently limited
                           in its ability to detect and track objects smaller than 30 centimeters.




                           3
                            This Council, part of the National Academy of Sciences, provides advice to the federal government on
                           scientific and technical matters. See Protecting the Space Station from Meteoroids and Orbital Debris,
                           1997.



                           Page 13                                                      GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                        Chapter 1
                        Introduction




Recent DOD and NASA     In January 1996, the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Space directed
Activities Related to   the DOD Space Architect to begin a study of DOD’s space control mission,
Surveillance            including the space surveillance function. The purpose was to develop a
                        range of architecture alternatives to satisfy national security needs to 2010
                        and beyond. In May 1997, the team provided its results to the Joint Space
                        Management Board.4 Regarding space surveillance, the team concluded
                        that next-generation ground-based radars and potential space-based
                        systems should be able to provide reliable near-earth tracking of space
                        objects that are 5 to 10 centimeters in size.5 The team expected such
                        capabilities to improve debris awareness and ensure that an emerging
                        class of microsatellites as small as 10 centimeters could be tracked. The
                        Board has yet to provide directions to DOD and intelligence organizations
                        on how to proceed regarding the space surveillance function.

                        In a separate action, NASA and the Air Force Space Command established a
                        partnership council in February 1997 to study a variety of space areas of
                        mutual interest. One area involves DOD’s space surveillance network. The
                        impetus to address this subject arose from recognizing the potentially
                        catastrophic consequences of collisions between manned spacecraft and
                        orbiting debris. One of the tasks is to examine ways to enhance orbital
                        debris data collection and processing on objects as small as 5 centimeters.


                        The Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Subcommittee on
Objectives, Scope,      Space and Aeronautics, House Committee on Science, expressed an
and Methodology         interest in how NASA intends to ensure protection of the space station
                        against space debris for which shielding will not be provided. As a result,
                        they asked us to provide this report on NASA’s and DOD’s requirements and
                        capabilities for detecting and tracking space objects and the existing
                        relationships between the two agencies for carrying out their
                        responsibilities in this area. We evaluated (1) how well DOD’s existing
                        space surveillance capabilities support DOD’s and NASA’s current and future
                        surveillance requirements and (2) the extent to which potential space
                        surveillance capabilities and technologies are coordinated to provide
                        opportunities for improvements.




                        4
                         This Board was established by the Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence to
                        ensure that defense and intelligence needs for space systems and their terrestrial components are
                        satisfied within available resources, using integrated architectures to the extent possible.
                        5
                         DOD uses the term near earth to describe a range of altitudes that are similar to the National Science
                        and Technology Council’s definition of low earth.



                        Page 14                                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Chapter 1
Introduction




To accomplish these objectives, we reviewed surveillance network
studies; DOD’s and NASA’s surveillance requirements documents and
emerging needs; reports, plans, and budgets associated with surveillance
network operations, maintenance, and enhancements; and program
documentation on potential capabilities. We also reviewed national space
policy and interviewed DOD and NASA representatives responsible for space
surveillance. We performed this work primarily at the U.S. and Air Force
Space Commands, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and NASA’s Johnson Space
Center, Houston, Texas.

In addition, we held discussions with and obtained documentation from
representatives of the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for
Space; the Joint Staff; the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization; the Office
of the DOD Space Architect; the Departments of the Air Force, the Navy,
and the Army; the Naval Research Laboratory; and NASA Headquarters; all
in Washington, D.C.

We also acquired information from the Naval Space Command, Dahlgren,
Virginia; the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, El Segundo,
California; the Air Force Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force
Base, Massachusetts; the Air Force’s Phillips Laboratory, Albuquerque,
New Mexico; the Army Space and Strategic Defense Command, Huntsville,
Alabama; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office
of Satellite Operations, Suitland, Maryland; the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, Massachusetts; and the
University of Colorado’s Aerospace Engineering Sciences, Boulder,
Colorado. We visited the Air Force’s Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep
Space Sensor, Socorro, New Mexico; the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology’s Lincoln Space Surveillance Complex, Tyngsboro,
Massachusetts; and NASA’s Liquid Mirror Telescope, Cloudcroft, New
Mexico.

We obtained written comments from DOD and NASA on a draft of this report.
These comments are reprinted in their entirety in appendixes II and III,
respectively. Both DOD and NASA also provided technical and editorial
comments, which we have incorporated into the report where appropriate.

We performed our work from September 1996 to August 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.




Page 15                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Chapter 2

Existing Network Cannot Satisfy Emerging
Surveillance Requirements

                           NASA  has established some stringent space surveillance requirements to
                           protect the space station and other spacecraft from collisions with space
                           debris. DOD’s space surveillance requirements are under review and are
                           likely to become more stringent. Because DOD’s existing space surveillance
                           network cannot satisfy its and NASA’s emerging requirements, changes in
                           the network may be needed. NASA and DOD have held discussions over the
                           years regarding NASA’s surveillance requirements, but there is no
                           authoritative direction, formal agreement, or clear plan on how the two
                           agencies could consolidate their requirements for a common capability.


                           During the past several years, NASA and DOD periodically discussed space
NASA’s Requirements        surveillance requirements for the space station, but many proposed
to Protect the Space       requirements were left to be determined and not formally provided as firm
Station Are Stringent      requirements to DOD. In August 1997, however, NASA provided the U.S.
                           Space Command with an updated set of requirements for surveillance
                           support that are more specific, comprehensive, and complete than
                           previous requirements. Two of these requirements—detecting and
                           tracking relatively small space objects and more accurately determining
                           the location of such objects—cannot be met by DOD’s existing surveillance
                           network. In commenting on a draft of this report, NASA stated that a third
                           requirement—notifying NASA within 1 hour of a space object
                           breakup—also cannot be met.


Relatively Small-Sized     NASA has designed portions of the space station with shielding to provide
Space Object Information   protection against objects smaller than 1 centimeter. It has concluded that
Needed                     shielding against larger objects would be too costly. The National Science
                           and Technology Council estimated that about 118,000 objects 1 centimeter
                           and larger were orbiting the earth. However, DOD’s surveillance network
                           cannot routinely detect and track 110,000 (93 percent) of the objects that
                           are estimated to be between 1 and 10 centimeters in size. The National
                           Research Council report stated that the risk of the space station colliding
                           with untracked debris could be lowered if more objects were tracked. The
                           report mentioned that debris from about 0.5 to 20 centimeters in diameter
                           was of most concern to the space station because, within this range, the
                           debris may be too large to shield against and too small to (currently) track
                           and avoid.

                           Because NASA has no location information about these relatively small
                           sized objects, it is requiring DOD, in the near term, to routinely detect,
                           track, and catalog all space objects that are 5 centimeters and larger and



                           Page 16                                      GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                        Chapter 2
                        Existing Network Cannot Satisfy Emerging
                        Surveillance Requirements




                        have a perigee of 600 kilometers or less.1 Beginning in the 2002-2003 time
                        frame, when the space station is to be completed, NASA will require DOD to
                        detect, track, and catalog objects as small as 1 centimeter. DOD agrees that
                        achieving the ability to detect and track objects 5 centimeters in size
                        would be an intermediate step to meeting NASA’s needs. However, DOD
                        stated that achieving the capability to detect and track objects
                        1 centimeter in size would be technically challenging.

                        The importance of the requirement to detect and track 1 centimeter space
                        objects is linked to the effect of critical collisions between such objects
                        and the space station. NASA estimates a 19-percent probability of critical
                        collisions with objects larger than 1 centimeter during a 10-year period.
                        Although not all collisions would be catastrophic, NASA estimates a
                        5-percent probability that such collisions would cause a catastrophic
                        failure, resulting in the loss of a module or a crew member. The National
                        Research Council emphasized that these calculations are far from exact
                        because they are based on many assumptions such as the future debris
                        environment, which could be higher or lower than estimated, and the
                        effectiveness of shielding critical space station components. Also, the
                        calculations exclude impacts on noncritical items that could potentially
                        cause severe damage to the station.


Accurate Space Object   NASA plans to maneuver the space station to avoid collisions with those
Location Information    space objects that can be accurately located by DOD’s surveillance
Needed                  network. Currently, DOD assesses the proximity of the 8,000 cataloged
                        objects relative to an orbiting space shuttle. NASA uses these assessments
                        to determine whether a sufficient threat exists to require a collision
                        avoidance maneuver. Although NASA has made such maneuvers with the
                        space shuttle, the shuttle has not been maneuvered in some instances
                        because of concern for interference with the primary mission objective.

                        For safety reasons, knowing the accurate location of space objects is
                        important in deciding when to make collision avoidance maneuvers. Also,
                        such knowledge would help avoid making unnecessary maneuvers that
                        would be disruptive to mission objectives, such as microgravity
                        experiments performed on the space shuttle or space station.

                        To ensure accurate information on objects that are 1 centimeter and
                        larger, in low-earth orbit, and with perigees 600 kilometers or less, NASA’s
                        requirements specifically call for sensor tracking to an orbital “semi-major

                        1
                         The perigee of an object’s orbit is the lowest point of the orbit relative to the earth.



                        Page 17                                                          GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                       Chapter 2
                       Existing Network Cannot Satisfy Emerging
                       Surveillance Requirements




                       axis” uncertainty of 5 meters or less.2 The purpose of this requirement is to
                       better predict possible collisions and better decide on the need for
                       collision avoidance maneuvers. However, DOD cannot meet this
                       requirement because the network’s sensors and processing capability and
                       capacity are insufficient, and because DOD does not have a program to
                       measure the orbital location accuracy of the 8,000 cataloged objects.


                       During the 1980s and early 1990s, the U.S. and Air Force Space Commands
DOD’s Requirements     repeatedly studied different aspects of space surveillance needs and
Are Under Review and   requirements, but not in a comprehensive manner. Command
Likely to Become       representatives told us that the lack of emphasis on space surveillance
                       during this period was due to its lower priority compared with other
More Stringent         missions, such as ballistic missile defense.

                       In 1994, the U.S. Space Command assessed its surveillance requirements,
                       which had last been validated in 1985. The results showed that the
                       requirements were loosely stated or inferred, had little supporting
                       rationale, and did not address future threats. This assessment led to
                       another study, completed by the Air Force Space Command in 1995, that
                       established new space surveillance requirements. However, these
                       requirements were never validated by the Joint Requirements Oversight
                       Council—DOD’s authoritative forum for assessing requirements for defense
                       acquisition programs.

                       In early 1997, the U.S. Space Command determined that the 1995 Air Force
                       surveillance requirements contained insufficient detail and justification
                       and, as a result, initiated another requirements review. In June 1997, the
                       Command emphasized that space surveillance is the foundation for all
                       functions that are performed in space and thus requested updated
                       surveillance requirements from defense, intelligence, and civil space
                       sector users, stating that the requirements must be quantitatively linked to
                       the needs of the warfighter and the Command’s assigned civil support
                       responsibilities. The final product is to be a space surveillance
                       requirements annex to the Command’s space control capstone
                       requirements document. This document, which is still in draft form,
                       emphasizes the necessity of (1) timely space surveillance assessments
                       relative to hostile actions in space, foreign reconnaissance satellite
                       overflights, and operational capabilities of foreign satellites and
                       (2) accurate information about space object size and orbital locations.


                       2
                        Because most space objects have elliptical orbits, the longer radius of the ellipse is known as the
                       semi-major axis.



                       Page 18                                                        GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
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                      Existing Network Cannot Satisfy Emerging
                      Surveillance Requirements




                      Upon completion of this effort, the space surveillance requirements are to
                      be reviewed and validated by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.

                      The DOD Space Architect used the U.S. Space Command’s draft capstone
                      requirements as a basis for performing its space control architecture
                      study. The study observed that U.S. forces expect timely characterization
                      of space threats; that is, forces expect to be warned in a timely manner
                      when a foreign satellite is a threat to their theater of operations. However,
                      the study concluded that, with the trends in satellite growth indicating not
                      only more satellites but also smaller and more compact satellites (known
                      as microsatellites), the task of distinguishing the attributes and status of
                      orbiting objects with both ground- and space-based sensors becomes more
                      difficult.


                      DOD has a well-defined process for establishing its own requirements.
Process for           However, because NASA is not a participant in this process and depends on
Establishing          DOD to provide space surveillance capabilities, it is not clear how NASA can

Consolidated          ensure satisfaction of its surveillance requirements. First, although the
                      1996 National Space Policy implies that DOD should provide such
Requirements Is Not   surveillance capabilities, and the U.S. Space Command acknowledges its
Clear                 civil space sector responsibility in this area, the policy does not provide
                      directions to ensure that DOD satisfies NASA’s requirements. Second,
                      although NASA has provided requirements to the U.S. Space Command, DOD
                      and NASA have not reached agreement as to how or when these
                      requirements might be satisfied. Third, the DOD Space Architect
                      organization’s study of space surveillance, which included both the
                      defense and intelligence space sectors, noted that detecting and tracking
                      space debris down to 1 centimeter (NASA’s requirement) could be
                      important to the safety of manned space systems, but that the requirement
                      is not a high priority for DOD. Thus, there is no authoritative direction,
                      formal agreement, or clear plan on how the two agencies could
                      consolidate their requirements for a common capability.


                      The civil and national security (defense and intelligence) space sectors
Conclusions           have a common interest in space surveillance, and there may be an
                      increasing interest by the commercial space sector. Better information is
                      needed regarding the size, location, and characterization of space objects
                      than the existing space surveillance network can provide.




                      Page 19                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                 Chapter 2
                 Existing Network Cannot Satisfy Emerging
                 Surveillance Requirements




                 NASA’s space surveillance requirements are commensurate with its
                 responsibilities to ensure the safety of human space flight, but these
                 requirements have not been acted upon by DOD. DOD’s space surveillance
                 requirements continue to be reviewed and will likely become more
                 stringent.

                 Unless DOD and NASA can establish a consolidated set of national security
                 and civil space surveillance requirements, an opportunity may be missed
                 to (1) better ensure the safety of the planned multibillion dollar space
                 station and (2) help satisfy national security needs, including U.S. forces’
                 future needs for space asset information.


                 We recommend that the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of
Recommendation   NASA, in consultation with the Director of Central Intelligence, establish a
                 consolidated set of governmentwide space surveillance requirements for
                 evaluating current capabilities and future architectures to support NASA’s,
                 DOD’s, and other federal agencies’ space programs and surveillance
                 information needs.




                 Page 20                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Chapter 3

Potential Surveillance Capabilities Are Not
Sufficiently Coordinated

                        DOD’s plans to modernize the existing Naval Space Surveillance System
                        (known as the Fence) and develop three new ballistic missile warning
                        systems do not adequately consider NASA’s or DOD’s emerging space
                        surveillance requirements. The Fence modernization effort would not
                        provide an enhanced capability, but instead would only install modern
                        components while continuing to satisfy DOD’s current requirements. The
                        development efforts for three missile warning systems do not adequately
                        consider DOD’s or NASA’s emerging space surveillance requirements. Also,
                        these four separate efforts are not sufficiently coordinated. Greater
                        coordination could result in more informed decisions regarding the best
                        combination of capabilities to satisfy a consolidated set of emerging
                        national security and civil space surveillance requirements.


                        Beginning in fiscal year 2003, the Navy tentatively plans to incrementally
Radar System Plan       replace components of the Fence with modern components because of the
Does Not Address        system’s age and relatively high maintenance costs. However, this effort is
Emerging Surveillance   not currently funded and will not enhance the system’s present capability
                        to detect and track space objects smaller than about 30 centimeters.
Requirements            According to DOD and NASA, the Fence could be upgraded to detect most
                        near-earth space objects larger than 1 centimeter by changing its operating
                        radio frequency from the existing very high frequency band to the
                        super-high frequency band and by locating it near the equator. Such an
                        upgrade could aid in satisfying both NASA’s requirement related to
                        small-sized space objects and DOD’s emerging requirement related to
                        microsatellites.

                        However, according to Naval Space Command officials, such an upgrade
                        has not undergone comprehensive study. In addition, they stated that a
                        radio frequency change (1) is not needed to satisfy existing DOD
                        surveillance requirements and (2) would have a significant effect on the
                        surveillance network’s data processing needs. In commenting on our draft
                        report, DOD stated that the possibility of obtaining funds to upgrade the
                        Fence to meet NASA’s 1 centimeter requirement is not high because DOD has
                        no comparable requirement.


                        Historically, DOD acquired various sensors to satisfy missions other than
Missile Warning Plans   space surveillance and then capitalized on their inherent capabilities to
Do Not Address          satisfy the surveillance mission. This collateral mission concept enabled
Emerging Surveillance   DOD to perform two missions with the same sensors. Examples included
                        ballistic missile early warning radars to detect and track intercontinental
Requirements

                        Page 21                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                            Chapter 3
                            Potential Surveillance Capabilities Are Not
                            Sufficiently Coordinated




                            ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles and other
                            radars to track space launch vehicles. DOD’s Space-Based Infrared System
                            (SBIRS), Ground-Based Radar (GBR), and Theater High Altitude Air Defense
                            (THAAD) radar are future ballistic missile warning systems that could
                            contribute to performing the space surveillance function as a secondary
                            mission.


Infrared Satellite System   DOD  plans to develop a low-earth orbit satellite component within the SBIRS
                            program, referred to as SBIRS-Low, to provide missile tracking support to
                            both national and theater ballistic missile defense programs. In May 1997,
                            the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology testified
                            before a congressional panel that SBIRS-Low could also perform much of
                            the space surveillance function, allowing some existing terrestrial
                            surveillance sensor sites to be closed and eliminating some surveillance
                            network gaps in space coverage,1 such as in the Southern Hemisphere.
                            Although DOD believes that the planned SBIRS-Low design would provide an
                            inherent space surveillance capability, its specific capabilities for this
                            function have not been determined.

                            The Air Force plans to initiate SBIRS-Low development in fiscal year 1999,
                            launch the first satellite in fiscal year 2004, and ultimately procure up to 24
                            or more satellites to establish an operational constellation that would
                            provide worldwide coverage. Although the SBIRS program office has begun
                            to investigate the feasibility of space-based space surveillance, it currently
                            does not plan to develop the SBIRS’ surveillance capabilities because the
                            necessary operational requirements have not been established. Until these
                            requirements are established, DOD can only point to the potential
                            capabilities provided inherently by the ballistic missile warning design.


Missile Defense Radars      The Army is developing two new phased-array radar systems—the GBR to
                            support national missile defense and the THAAD radar to support theater
                            missile defense. Army project officials stated that on the basis of limited
                            analyses, GBR and THAAD radars each may have inherent space surveillance
                            capabilities that could support NASA’s and DOD’s emerging requirements.
                            They stated that GBR, for example, could (1) detect and track space objects
                            that are approximately 1 centimeter or less and (2) maintain 1,000
                            simultaneous tracks of these objects compared with only several hundred
                            tracks that phased-array radars in the existing surveillance network can

                            1
                            This testimony was presented before a joint session of the Subcommittee on Military Research and
                            Development and Subcommittee on Military Procurement, House Committee on National Security.



                            Page 22                                                    GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                        Chapter 3
                        Potential Surveillance Capabilities Are Not
                        Sufficiently Coordinated




                        maintain. Similarly, the officials stated that the THAAD radars could track,
                        characterize, and discriminate objects while performing their autonomous
                        search function. Finally, the officials stated that the GBR and THAAD radars
                        could be used during peacetime for space surveillance while maintaining
                        readiness for combat.

                        As with SBIRS-Low, neither GBR nor THAAD is currently required or
                        specifically designed to perform space surveillance functions. Army
                        officials stated that, although the U.S. Space Command was briefed about
                        GBR’s ability to perform collateral missions, including space surveillance,
                        the Command had not established operational requirements for space
                        surveillance applicable to either GBR or THAAD.

                        By fiscal year 1998, the Army plans to have a GBR prototype in operation. A
                        national missile defense deployment decision is expected in fiscal
                        year 2000, which may include plans for GBR deployment in 2003. Regarding
                        THAAD, the Army currently has two test radars and plans to award an
                        engineering and manufacturing development contract in 1999 for two
                        radars with more capability. It expects to deploy as many as 12 mobile
                        THAAD radars worldwide.



                        The Air Force Space Command’s 1995 space surveillance study observed
Lack of a Coordinated   that the surveillance network evolved without a master plan. The space
Plan                    surveillance mission did not have as high a priority as other missions, and
                        DOD capitalized on the inherent capabilities of sensors that were designed
                        for purposes other than surveillance. The lack of such a comprehensive
                        plan creates difficulties in assessing operational capabilities to satisfy
                        requirements, particularly when the need arises to evaluate emerging
                        requirements that are increasingly stringent.

                        The DOD Space Architect’s May 1997 space control study assessed a mix of
                        space surveillance capabilities. The study observed, for example, that a
                        modest radio frequency enhancement to the existing Naval Space
                        Surveillance System, costing roughly $200 million, is feasible for tracking
                        space debris as small as 2 to 5 centimeters. The study also observed that
                        the timing is right to evaluate the presumed inherent space surveillance
                        capabilities of SBIRS-Low to determine if those capabilities could actually
                        be provided. Although GBR and THAAD were not specifically addressed in
                        the study, it indicated that a system with similar generic capability would
                        be stressed to achieve NASA’s 1 centimeter requirement. Finally, the study




                        Page 23                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                 Chapter 3
                 Potential Surveillance Capabilities Are Not
                 Sufficiently Coordinated




                 suggested that several technology efforts be continued to provide a hedge
                 against an uncertain set of future space control threats and priorities.

                 A significant point in the Space Architect’s study was that NASA’s
                 1 centimeter requirement would be both technically challenging and
                 expensive. In its comments on our draft report, DOD stated that the
                 requirement is not considered feasible within current budget constraints.
                 Until the Joint Space Management Board provides directions regarding the
                 study’s results, implementation plans will not be prepared. Even then, the
                 plans may not sufficiently address NASA’s needs without agreement
                 between DOD and NASA.


                 NASA relies on DOD for space surveillance support, and both agencies need
Conclusions      improved surveillance capabilities. However, four DOD systems that could
                 provide such capabilities—the Naval Space Surveillance System,
                 SBIRS-Low, GBR, and THAAD—lack sufficient coordination, both within DOD
                 and between DOD and NASA. The three missile defense sensors (SBIRS-Low,
                 GBR, and THAAD) could provide a collateral space surveillance capability, a
                 concept DOD has successfully used over the years. In times of constrained
                 budgets, capitalizing on ways to satisfy multiple missions with the same
                 resources appears to be prudent.

                 A coordinated plan between DOD and NASA that considers all existing and
                 planned capabilities could be beneficial in making cost-effective decisions
                 to satisfy a consolidated set of emerging national security and civil space
                 surveillance requirements. Without a coordinated plan, DOD and NASA
                 would not be taking advantage of potential efficiencies. The DOD Space
                 Architect, along with NASA and the intelligence space sector, could provide
                 a means for developing such a plan.


                 We recommend that the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of
Recommendation   NASA, in consultation with the Director of Central Intelligence, develop a
                 coordinated governmentwide space surveillance plan that (1) sets forth
                 and evaluates all feasible alternative capabilities to support human space
                 flight and emerging national security requirements and (2) ensures that
                 any planned funding for space surveillance upgrades is directed toward
                 satisfying consolidated governmentwide requirements.




                 Page 24                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Page 25   GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Appendix I

Surveillance Network Composition and
Characteristics

              The space surveillance network presently includes 31 DOD and privately
              owned radar and optical sensors at 16 worldwide locations, a
              communications network, and primary and alternate operations centers
              for data processing. Most of the sensors are mechanical tracking,
              phased-array, and continuous-wave radars, but optical telescopes are also
              used.

              The most common radar type is a mechanical tracker with a movable
              antenna, whereby energy is transmitted into space and reflected by a
              space object back to the same radar antenna. A phased-array radar
              consists of thousands of individual antennas that produce and steer energy
              beams to different locations in space. A continuous-wave radar system
              consists of several transmitters and receivers, each placed in a different
              physical location across a horizontal plane. The Naval Space Surveillance
              System, consisting of six receivers and three transmitters located at sites
              from California to Georgia, is a continuous-wave system. Telescopes, such
              as the Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space System, detect light
              reflected from space objects and track the objects using this reflected
              light.

              The various network sensors’ support to the space surveillance mission
              are categorized as being dedicated, collateral, or contributing. Dedicated
              sensors support the space surveillance mission as their primary purpose.
              Collateral sensors primarily support other missions, such as ballistic
              missile warning or launch vehicle range support, but also provide space
              surveillance capabilities. Contributing sensors are used under a contract
              or an agreement to support the space surveillance mission only when
              requested by the U.S. Space Command.

              All space surveillance data needs are coordinated through the Space
              Control Center, located at Cheyenne Mountain Air Station in Colorado, or
              the alternate control center, located at the Naval Space Command in
              Virginia. These control centers direct the network sensors to collect data
              on a space object’s orbital position. Such data can provide information
              about the time that the space object is observed, its angle (elevation) from
              the point of observation, its direction (azimuth) from true north, and its
              distance (range) from the sensor. Information about a space object’s
              physical properties, such as size, shape, motion, orientation, and surface
              materials, can also be obtained.

              About one-third of the network sensors provide data on space objects only
              in near-earth altitudes (5,875 kilometers and less), about one-third only in



              Page 26                                      GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                                       Appendix I
                                       Surveillance Network Composition and
                                       Characteristics




                                       deep space, and about one-third in both near earth and deep space.
                                       Table I.1 lists the network sensors by category, with the sensor types and
                                       detection ranges by locations.

Table I.1: Space Surveillance Sensor
Locations, Types, and Detection        Sensor location                 Sensor type                   Sensor detection range
Ranges                                 Dedicated support to space surveillance mission
                                       Diego Garcia, Indian Ocean      3 telescopes                  Deep space
                                       Eglin Air Force Base, Florida   1 phased-array radar          Near earth and deep space
                                       Maui, Hawaii                    6 telescopes                  4 deep space and 2 near
                                                                                                     earth and deep space
                                       Western and southern U.S.     1 continuous-wave radar         Near earth
                                       locations for the Naval Space system
                                       Surveillance System
                                       Socorro, New Mexico             3 telescopes                  Deep space
                                       Collateral support to space surveillance mission
                                       Antigua, British West Indies    1 mechanical tracker radar    Near earth
                                       Ascension Island, South         2 mechanical tracker radars Near earth
                                       Atlantic Ocean
                                       Beale Air Force Base,           1 phased-array radar with     Near earth
                                       California                      2 faces
                                       Cape Cod Air Force Station,     1 phased-array radar with     Near earth
                                       Massachusetts                   2 faces
                                       Cavalier Air Force Station,     1 phased-array radar          Near earth
                                       North Dakota
                                       Clear Air Station, Alaska       1 mechanical tracker radar    Near earth
                                       Fylingdales, England            1 phased-array radar with     Near earth
                                                                       3 faces
                                       Oahu, Hawaii                    1 mechanical tracker radar    Near earth
                                       Thule, Greenland                1 phased-array radar with     Near earth
                                                                       2 faces
                                       Contributing support to space surveillance mission
                                       Kwajalein, Marshall Islands     4 mechanical tracker radars Near earth and deep space
                                       Tyngsboro, Massachusetts        3 mechanical tracker radars Near earth and deep space




                                       Page 27                                                GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Appendix II

Comments From the Department of Defense


Note: GAO comments
supplementing those in the
report text appear at the
end of this appendix.




                             Page 28   GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                       Appendix II
                       Comments From the Department of Defense




Now on pp. 5 and 20.




See comment 1.




See comment 2.




See comment 3.




                       Page 29                                   GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                       Appendix II
                       Comments From the Department of Defense




Now on pp. 5 and 24.




See comment 4.




                       Page 30                                   GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
               Appendix II
               Comments From the Department of Defense




               The following are GAO’s comments on DOD’s letter dated October 8, 1997.


               1. Unless DOD and NASA reach an agreement on requirements and cost or
GAO Comments   burden sharing for space surveillance, NASA may have to decide what
               degree of risk would be acceptable to its interests if surveillance network
               improvements are not made. Interagency agreements have been reached
               on other programs. For example, a memorandum of agreement for the
               National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System was
               signed by the Secretaries of Commerce and Defense and the Administrator
               of NASA in 1995 that established a joint requirements process. It also
               provided directions for developing acquisition, technology, operations,
               funding, and organizational management plans. Regarding funding, the
               agreement established that a cost-sharing approach would be used for
               common requirements and that unique requirements would be funded by
               the appropriate agency.

               2. We made adjustments in our report to refer to the surveillance network,
               where applicable, rather than just the surveillance sensors.

               3. We are aware that the DOD Space Architect’s 1997 space control study
               included a recommendation to separate the space surveillance function
               from the missile warning function. Initially, this could take place through
               procedural changes, and subsequently, through software and hardware
               modifications associated with planned system upgrades. The stated
               purpose was to reduce costs of surveillance that are otherwise required
               for a rigorous missile warning software certification process.

               4. We are aware of various joint processes and infrastructure within DOD
               that could be used for plan development and coordination with other
               government agencies. However, for space surveillance, NASA has an
               important interest. The Aeronautics and Astronautics Coordinating
               Board—a senior management review and advisory body to DOD and NASA to
               facilitate coordination of aeronautics and space activities of mutual
               interest—may need to address this subject.




               Page 31                                       GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Appendix III

Comments From the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration

Note: GAO comments
supplementing those in the
report text appear at the
end of this appendix.




                             Page 32   GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                 Appendix III
                 Comments From the National Aeronautics
                 and Space Administration




See comment 1.




Now on p. 19.

See comment 2.




                 Page 33                                  GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
                 Appendix III
                 Comments From the National Aeronautics
                 and Space Administration




See comment 3.




                 Page 34                                  GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
               Appendix III
               Comments From the National Aeronautics
               and Space Administration




               The following are GAO’s comments on NASA’s letter dated October 10, 1997.


               1. In chapter 1, we briefly discussed DOD’s closing of certain sensor sites
GAO Comments   that support space surveillance—the results of which apparently have not
               seriously affected DOD. To the extent that the system’s margins have been
               reduced, particularly relative to NASA’s requirements, interagency
               consolidation of requirements and coordination of a capabilities plan is
               further justified.

               2. We are aware of several memorandums of agreement between NASA and
               DOD. The 1996 agreement for support of the space shuttles and station is
               written in general terms, dealing with working relationships and the
               exchange of available information. Although such an agreement is
               essential, the process for agreeing on stringent, quantified space
               surveillance requirements, the quality of information to be provided, and
               how surveillance network improvements are to be made and who pays for
               them, still has to be addressed. As discussed in our comments to DOD’s
               response on our draft report, the Aeronautics and Astronautics
               Coordinating Board—a senior management review and advisory body to
               DOD and NASA to facilitate coordination of aeronautics and space activities
               of mutual interest—may be the proper forum for this subject.

               3. We state in the report that NASA is dependent on DOD for space
               surveillance.




               Page 35                                      GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Appendix IV

Major Contributors to This Report


                        Thomas J. Brew
National Security and   Homer H. Thomson
International Affairs   James A. Elgas
Division, Washington,
D.C.
                        Frederick G. Day
Denver Office           Arthur Gallegos
                        Maricela Camarena
                        Arturo Holguin, Jr.




                        Page 36               GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Page 37   GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Page 38   GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Page 39   GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
Related GAO Products


              Space Station: Estimated Total U.S. Funding Requirements
              (GAO/NSIAD-95-163, June 12, 1995).

              Space Station: Delays in Dealing With Space Debris May Reduce Safety
              and Increase Costs (GAO/IMTEC-92-50, June 2, 1992).

              Space Program: Space Debris a Potential Threat to Space Station and
              Shuttle (GAO/IMTEC-90-18, Apr. 6, 1990).




(707209)      Page 40                                    GAO/NSIAD-98-42 Space Surveillance
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