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Summaries of EU Legislation

EU programme for space surveillance and tracking support

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EU programme for space surveillance and tracking support

Decision No 541/2014/EU - framework for space surveillance and tracking support

ACT

Decision No 541/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 establishing a Framework for Space Surveillance and Tracking Support

SUMMARY

Satellites form the backbone for many applications and services essential to the economy as well as the security and wellbeing of the public. However, they are at risk of collision with space debris*, which has become the most serious threat to space activities.

WHAT DOES THE DECISION DO?

It establishes the space surveillance and tracking support framework which aims to protect satellites from space debris.

KEY POINTS

What is space surveillance and tracking (SST)?

SST identifies and monitors satellites and space debris mostly through ground-based sensors such as telescopes and radars. At present, there is no SST capability at European level; satellite and launch operators are dependent on data from the United States for anti-collision alerts.

Objectives

The main objective of the SST framework is to support the development of a European SST service. This service will be based on a network built around existing SST sensors in EU countries. The network may be supported by technology and information provided by the United States.

It also has the following specific objectives:

to assess and reduce the risks of collisions of satellites with space debris, and track its movements when a potential risk of collision has been identified; this allows action to be planned and taken to prevent the collision;

to reduce risks relating to the launch of European spacecraft;

to survey uncontrolled re-entries of spacecraft or space debris into the Earth's atmosphere and provide more accurate and efficient early warnings to reduce the potential related risks;

to seek to prevent further accumulation of space debris.

Who can use these services?

They should be available to public, commercial, civilian, military operators and authorities.

Progress

The Commission will produce an implementation report on the achievement of the decision's objectives by July 2018.

BACKGROUND

KEY TERMS

* Space debris: various man-made objects, such as old satellites and fragments of rockets, which are in orbit around the earth.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision No 541/2014/EU

16.6.2014

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OJ L 158, 27.5.2014, pp. 227-234.

last update 28.09.2015

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