Scientific Papers

Interoperable data exchange for safe and efficient launch and re-entry operations in an international environment


The frequency of commercial space launch and re-entry operations is increasing worldwide. Current regulations and procedures ensure safe operations by temporarily closing large volumes of airspace where risks to aircraft would exist in case of non-nominal events during launch or re-entry operations. To maintain the safety of air traffic as the number of space operations rises, effectively providing the right information to the right stakeholders at the right time is key. Through a cooperative agreement, the FAA and DLR are sharing their unique capabilities using the Commercial Space Integration Lab and Air Traffic Validation Center, located in the USA and Germany respectively, to improve situational awareness through real-time data exchange. The project seeks to answer whether U.S. and European ANSPs can respond adequately to a non-nominal event during a launch or re-entry operation that presents a hazard to the airspace system. It leverages existing international data standards and infrastructures by using a data exchange approach based on System Wide Information Management (SWIM). Within the project an initial assessment of the processes, roles and responsibilities for implementing launch and re-entry events in the air traffic systems on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as the requirements for basic functions and performance parameters of a SWIM-based integration, have been completed. The project developed a demonstration model across all system levels as far down as to the ANSPs, namely to the air traffic controllers. Through a series of demonstrations, covering launch scenarios from the U.S. with possible effects on European airspace and vice versa, the project evaluated the technical and operational feasibility of the concept. The key data parameters identified during the analyses shall enable information sharing among various users within the U.S. and European global airspace system. It has been shown, that the systems on both sides of the Atlantic could be connected via standardized protocols und used successfully for exercises in different scenarios. Further research on the best integration of the processes in international Air Traffic Management (ATM) networks and domains will be the follow-on.



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