An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | Sept. 30, 2022

Space Surveillance Telescope Reaches Operational Acceptance, Set to Provide Space Domain Awareness for U.S., Australia, and Key Allies

By Space Systems Command

In partnership with the Australian Department of Defence, the U.S. Space Force (USSF)’s Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) achieved Initial Operational Capability on Sept. 30.

Prior to reaching this milestone Space Systems Command, formerly known as Space and Missile Systems Center, led an international partnership effort to move SST to Australia where this capability enables the telescope to become a part of the global Space Surveillance Network (SSN) that provides space domain awareness for the United States, Australia, and their key allies.

SST is a military telescope that provides ground-based, broad-area search, detection and tracking of faint objects in deep space to help predict and avoid potential collisions, as well as detect asteroids and comets. It is capable of imaging objects in geosynchronous orbit, approximately 22,000 miles above Earth.

“Achieving operational acceptance was a team effort with our Australian partners,” said Mr. F Schnell, SSC’s Acquisition Delta - Space Domain Awareness (SDA), director. “Delivering SST not only provides critical ground-based, broad-area search, detection and tracking of faint objects in deep space, it strengthens our partnership with Australia and exploits existing capabilities – meeting the command’s leadership objectives to ‘exploit what we have’ and be ‘allied by design.’”

SST’s ability to maintain SDA is critical to influencing the program’s mission of studying and monitoring artificial objects, such as satellites and debris, orbiting the earth.

In 2013, as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Australia and the United States agreed to relocate the SST from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to Naval Communication Station Harold E Holt (NCS HEH) to develop Australia’s space domain awareness capabilities, and improve the United States’ SSN’s ground-based electro-optical coverage of the geosynchronous equatorial orbit (GEO) space regime.

The collaborative efforts to reach this operational capability further showcases the strength in an allied partnership that’s united in protecting shared interests in the space domain –the U.S. will maintain ownership of the SST with oversight and management provided by Space Operations Command’s Space Delta 2, at Peterson Space Force Base, Colo., while Australia will retain responsibility for the facilities and infrastructure, operators, and training.