Modernizing Space Domain Awareness with ATLAS: Advanced Tracking and Launch Analysis System

  • Published
  • By Capt. John Bennion
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Space Systems Command’s (SSC) Space Command and Control (Space C2) program recently awarded a $49.7 million delivery order on the Starfleet Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to L3Harris for development of the Advanced Tracking and Launch Analysis System (ATLAS).

ATLAS is being developed by L3Harris for the U. S. Space Force (USSF) to modernize core Space C2 capabilities for improved Space Domain Awareness (SDA) and space event management. L3Harris and its teammates will develop, integrate, and deliver a package of astrometric tools to further ATLAS development and modernize SDA mission capabilities. The performance period is 24 months, with the minimum set of capabilities to be delivered by Sept. 30, 2022.

In the increasingly congested and contested space environment, SDA, including identifying, characterization, and understanding the growing amount of debris and other items in space – is critical to our nation’s safety and security.

“SSC is continuing to bring critical space domain awareness capabilities for our nation,” said Col. Jennifer Krolikowski, director of SSC’s Chief Information Office.  “As the space domain is increasingly congested and contested, it is all the more important we know what’s going on in the domain. We are focused on this important mission and the vital capabilities that we deliver to our space warfighters.”

ATLAS development under this award will include collaborating with mission operators, government and industry stakeholders, using modern software development methods, such as DevSecOps, Agile and User-Centered Design. SSC’s modernization of USSF’s SDA capabilities through ATLAS will enable the decommissioning of the SPADOC system, a legacy space management tool. When ATLAS is deployed, operators and stakeholders will coordinate to make sure ATLAS reaches the operational acceptance milestone to implement the SPADOC decommissioning Minimum Viable Capabilities. MVCs are the initial set of features suitable to be fielded to an operational environment that provides value to the warfighter or end user in a rapid timeline.  

 The ATLAS MVCs include automated processing and maintenance of astrometric baseline - the space catalog of all known space objects; manual and automated observation association, orbit determination, and propagation of general perturbation and special perturbation; manual and automated uncorrelated track processing; event processing; manual and automated uncorrelated track processing; tasking and calibration; and processing satellite conjunctions. The first MVC set to be delivered is observation processing and association where ATLAS will receive sensor observation messages, process, analysis, and use the sensor data for space domain awareness.  

 “L3Harris has a strong team that not only understands the importance of this mission but is also ready to execute on a timeline necessary to address threats,” said Ed Zoiss, president of L3Harris Space and Airborne Systems. “We have supported the nation’s space superiority mission for more than 30 years and are ready to continue our collaboration with Space C2. As the prime ATLAS developer, we look forward to this expanded role to lead systems integration through ATLAS operational acceptance.”

L3Harris provides the United States government with SDA, space control, and space command and control capabilities needed to gain, maintain and exploit space superiority.

The Space C2 program provides capabilities to facilitate timely, quality-driven battlespace decisions for the space domain fight that bring critical services to our warfighters. The program provides infrastructure, enterprise services, and develops mission applications to enable responsive, resilient operational-level Space C2 capabilities for space operations centers. The Space C2 program develops the operational echelon to deliver multi-domain effects, underpinning foundational offensive and defensive space control capabilities for the USSF space enterprise.

Space Systems Command (SSC) is the U.S. Space Force field command responsible for rapidly identifying, prototyping, and fielding resilient space capabilities for joint warfighters. SSC delivers sustainable joint space warfighting capabilities to defend the nation and its allies while disrupting adversaries in the contested space domain. SSC mission areas include launch acquisition and operations; space domain awareness; positioning, navigation, and timing; missile warning; satellite communication; and cross-mission ground, command and control, and data.