There are currently 7446 objects in low earth orbit (LEO) and 8243 objects in total. Compared to the 3,700 satellites recorded by ESA in 2021, this is a dramatic increase. This doesn’t even begin to consider how much debris is in space, or the number of satellites that have entered space and returned to earth.
More nations are entering the space domain for military and civil purposes. The capabilities of these technologies are being expanded, sending us into unchartered territories for space activity and operational management.
All of this development creates operational risks and uncertainties. The more military and civilian use cases take place in space and the more satellites get launched into space, organisations need solutions to manage the threats posed.
The new Space Age
The space domain, and the intelligence assets this encompasses, is an essential part of the operational theatre, critical national infrastructure and the future battlespace. Understanding the operating picture – where satellites are, which ones are at risk of collision, electrical failure or adversarial attack, and how these impacts affect operations – requires a lot of data.
Risk analysis solutions for managing space operations
The need to be able to communicate information clearly and in a timely manner is critical in safety of life situations. Equally, the need to train an increasing number of space operators both on the front line and at space operations centres is an essential development of the future battlespace.
The need to provide increased capability in the form of analytical systems is therefore imperative to minimising operator burden, alongside enhancing decision support and situational awareness and enabling multi-domain integration of information and physical activity.
SpaceAware Protect delivers a common operating picture for the space domain. This dynamic platform visualises space infrastructure vulnerabilities and threats, as well as the associated potential impact on dependent operations to give you an integrated view of operational risks.
- Live forecasting and modelling
- Collaborative data sharing internationally
- Integrate formatted or unformatted data
- Manage large data volumes from remote or autonomous systems
Download the free SpaceAware Product Sheet PDF for more information on product details, features and benefits.
Space and Satellite Risk FAQs
The purpose of satellites
There are many uses for satellites that range across sectors. The most common uses for satellites include navigation, communication, and imagery. Defence sectors will use them to provide intelligence to ground operations as well as real-time navigation for vessels, banks use satellites to synchronise transactions, and civil operators like emergency services rely on them for navigation. There are many diverse use cases that all require timely and reliable service.
The impact of satellite disruption
Due to the widespread use of satellites on earth, the impact of satellite disruption ranges from the inconvenient to the severe. For example, a payment that doesn’t go through is relatively minor compared to frontline soldiers losing contact with their operations base.
Risks of space operations
In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of potential space-faring nations. The reduced cost of access to space is driving more nations to develop their space capabilities and increasing the competition to achieve superiority in space.
In addition, more innovations on earth are reliant on space infrastructure. For example, autonomous cars need the real-time positioning and communication capabilities provided by satellites.
This landscape, also a potential battlefield, doesn’t have the solutions it needs to manage operations without risk. Operators and analysts need to effectively analyse potential infrastructure risks so they can minimise the immediate and downstream impacts on military and civilian operations.
Key statistics about satellites:
- Total satellites launched into space – About 12020
- Total functioning satellites in orbit – About 4500
- Total debris objects monitored – About 29150
- Total debris objects in orbit – Over 128 million
- Total mass of space objects orbiting Earth – More than 9500 tonnes
- Space debris speeds – Over 15,000 mph
- Debris avoidance manoeuvres performed by the ISS – 29 since 1999
To learn more about our space solutions, visit our SpaceAware page on the website.