Canadian Space Community Begins Work On Space Systems Resilience Roadmap

With debris floating in different orbits, situational awareness is key to understanding how and when to safely navigate your own assets. Credit BAE Systems.

While the CASI ASTRO 18 conference officially gets underway today, yesterday CASI held the Space Systems Resilience Workshop which enabled the various stakeholders to get together with an eye towards further laying the groundwork for a roadmap.

Setting the stage

Approximately 35 people participated in the full day workshop that was divided into two parts.

The morning session included talks from government experts discussing their departments ongoing efforts in Space Systems Resilience. This included Lt.-Col. Catherine Marchetti, Director Space Strategy and Plans, DG Space, Department of National Defence (DND), Bumsoo Kim, Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) , David Kendall, UN COPUOS, Eric Laliberté, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Lauchie Scott, DRDC.

The afternoon session was where three breakout groups focused on Emerging Technologies and Autonomy, Technologies for Space Systems Resilience and Electromagnetic Issues. This is where the hard work was done in formulating answers to pre-defined questions that were put forth for participants to consider. The participants were also guided by an expected session outcomes, specific to their topic. Participants only had 2 1/2 hours to work through the questions and prepare a short presentation for plenary discussion later in the afternoon. Of course, there will be follow-up with expected newly created Space Systems Resilience Workgroups, one of the day’s outcomes.

The other workshop outcomes will include the beginning of a scientific roadmap for Space Systems Resilience and a follow-up workshop to be held in 2020.

The three C’s are now four C’s

It is often said that space is congested, contested and competitive. Now as Lt.-Col. Marchetti pointed out in her talk, space is now converging. Space is creating opportunity and risk, hence the fourth C, convergence. She said “we need to find ways to leverage those opportunities, and at the same time mitigate the risk.”

Space Domain Mission Assurance: A Resilience Taxonomy
Download: Space Domain Mission Assurance: A Resilience Taxonomy. Credit: Homeland Defense & Global Security/DoD.

She also said that the new defence policy last year, Strong, Secure and Engaged – Canada’s Defence Policy, was the first time since 1998 that a National Defence policy document had language about space. This is a notable change as there has been a concerted effort at DND to “increase internal awareness” of how pervasive space is.

Lt.-Col. Marchetti also made reference to a new strategy effort underway at DG Space for space mission assurance. In discussing this topic Lt.-Col. Marchetti referenced a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) 2015 white paper Space Domain Mission Assurance: A Resilience Taxonomy.

The paper references a DoD Mission Assurance Strategy released in 2012 which defined mission assurance as “a process to protect or ensure the continued function and resilience of capabilities and assets – including personnel, equipment, facilities, networks, information and information systems, infrastructure, and supply chains – critical to the performance of DoD mission essential functions in any operating environment or condition.”

There’s no doubt that what the U.S. has done in this area will influence what Canada does going forward.

Classifed conferences

Bumsoo Kim of the DRDC spoke of an Emerging Space Technologies project for Space System Resilience the purpose of which “is to investigate new or emerging concepts, technologies, and methodologies for improved space system capabilities, utilization, and for enhanced resilience of space systems.”

They are also looking at developing a strategic roadmap for emerging space technologies and resilient space system architecture.

Of note, he said while this workshop is unclassified, he said discussions on Space System Resilience between government and others can be problematic because of security clearances. Canada does not have a system in place like the U.S. for “classified conferences.” An issue that needs to be looked at.

When talking about Space System Resilience, David Kendall said “resiliency isn’t just things, its also processes, its people”, noting that failures happen because of soft things, citing management and communication.

The workshop breakout sessions

The afternoon breakout sessions focused on these three areas.

Emerging Technologies and Autonomy

The demand for space-based communications and basic environmental information has been increased since the introduction of satellite systems and it is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. Autonomy in space systems can contribute to reduced costs, to reduced operator workloads, and to increased system robustness and maintainability by enabling faster response times, improving operations efficiency, and enhancing accuracy.

We believe now is the perfect time to share, discuss, and understand the emerging space technologies and trends, especially in the area of autonomy for space missions.

Topics include autonomous spacecraft control, space robotics, enhancement of space mission robustness, collision avoidance with space debris or other satellites, autonomous formation flights, and rendezvous and proximity operations.

Technologies for Space System Resilience

Space system resilience is an important and integral part of mission assurance and security. Within this process of developing resilient space systems, there are specific activities that can be considered as existing primarily to service the mission assurance domain, such as space system security and space situational awareness (SSA). While Canada has been a leader in a number of specific mission assurance (SMA) initiatives, with established leading-edge research programs in these areas (e.g. Sapphire and NEOSSat missions) our efforts have not been well coordinated, hindering collaboration and limiting awareness and information-sharing. The Government of Canada has established safety and mission assurance policies and practices to meet international interoperability requirements.

During this Workshop, topics related to space mission assurance and space resilience were discussed such as: resilient space system architecture; space situational awareness; Canada’s preparedness for space weather events; and fault detection, isolation and recovery (FDIR) and failure modes and effects criticality analyses (FMECA) in space systems.

Electromagnetics Issues

The electromagnetic spectrum is an enabler for space systems, their communications links and their payloads. It is governed by the International Telecommunications Union. The communication links include the space-based platform and ground segment both for telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C), and data up and downlinks between constellation satellites. Space systems and their components can be affected by electromagnetic interference (EMI) directed at the satellite, its payloads, the terrestrial system and the communications links between these components. EMI effects include inadvertent frequency interference of co-located geosynchronous satellite communications systems, spectrum interference effects from new 5G wireless systems, ground segment vulnerability to physical attacks, and computer network intrusions. Ideally, space systems would be designed with electronic protection measures to mitigate these effects.

The Workshop explored the importance of resilience in mitigating the effect of electromagnetics issues upon space systems. Topics included resilient signals that are interoperable with international satellite navigation systems, space-based radars and their antennas that mitigate EMI effects, robust communication links, and ways to integrate EMI resilience measures with the broader space system.

A public final report

As with past CASI workshops there will be a final report with the findings from the breakout sessions and material discussed in the morning session. That report will be made public when available later this year.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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