Finally, the committee concluded that Air Force Space Command and the JSpOC could benefit from a strategic analysis of space situational awareness-related activities, including algorithm and model development and upgrades as well as operations and personnel management. Without such an analysis Air Force Space Command and the JSpOC could end up making budget decisions and model development priorities in an uncoordinated way, rather than according to a coherent, well-thought-out strategy.

Recommendation: The Air Force Space Command should conduct a strategic analysis of its space situational awareness-related activities, particularly as they pertain to the directives of the 2010 National Space Policy.

Recommendation: The Air Force Space Command should further develop the vision for the future of the Joint Space Operations Center Mission System and the system of systems based on the 2010 National Space Policy.

As the space age has matured, our dependence on space systems has increased—for national security, and for civil and commercial uses. Now, more than 50 years into the space age, the most useful orbits are becoming more crowded with active satellites, defunct satellites, and, unfortunately, with debris. Air Force Space Command, USSTRATCOM’s Joint Space Operations Center, and their predecessor organizations have ably served the nation and the international community, but the needs of their wide spectrum of users are increasing even as the space environment is becoming more cluttered. To address these evolving needs, it is essential that AFSPC improve the JSpOC infrastructure, modernize the software, architect the system to incorporate new algorithms and sensor data more easily, and adapt its products to meet the more demanding needs of some customers. Increasing the openness and transparency of its algorithms, research, and processes could have great value for the broader community—and increase user-driven innovation. The Air Force needs to position the JSpOC—and its overall space situational awareness system—to rapidly evaluate, adapt, and adopt evolving technologies to meet community needs more proactively.

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