DND looking for feedback on commercial solutions for space situational awareness

Artis illustration of NorthStar Space Situational Awareness satellites monitoring space. Credit: NorthStar Earth and Space.

The Department of National Defence (DND), through Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), is soliciting opinions on commercial Space Situational Awareness observations. 

Space Situational Awareness (SSA) refers to the necessity of understanding what’s happening in the increasingly-crowded low Earth orbit (LEO) environment. It’s not just crowding, but churn as well: more and more LEO SmallSats are being launched with the expectation that they’ll deorbit and burn up in the atmosphere. An ever-increasing and constantly-changing orbital environment requires serious investments in tracking satellites and other space objects. 

A new RFI was released on this issue on July 29 by PSPC, on behalf of the Department of National Defence. 

Entitled “Commercial Space Situational Awareness Observations,” the available information in the RFI is somewhat scant. It only says that “the purpose of this RFI is to issue a request for information to solicit industry opinions and feedback to explore potential options, refine the commercially available Space Situational Awareness Observations requirement, and understand the state of the market.” No further information is given other than directing users to the SAP Ariba procurement system being implemented by the government.

Attempts to reach out too PSPC to get more details resulted SpaceQ being referred to the PSPC media office. As of time of writing, the media office has not replied to inquiries.

Nevertheless, the actual purpose of the tender can be found in Canada’s 2018 Defense Plan, which emphasized the importance of space situational awareness and the role of DND within it. A speech from the Hon. Harjit Singh Sajjan, then-Minister of Defence, identified space situational awareness as a key part of the defence plan, which is supported by the Surveillance of Space section of the Defence Plan.

Companies interested in the RFI (and in future PSPC-based tenders) are required to set up an account on SAP Ariba in order to learn more if they haven’t already done so.

About Craig Bamford

Craig started writing for SpaceQ in 2017 as their space culture reporter, shifting to Canadian business and startup reporting in 2019. He is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, and has a Master's Degree in International Security from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. He lives in Toronto.

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