SSC Tests Connection Of Space Fence, Cloud-Based Tracking Library

A U.S. Air Force graphic depicts objects in low Earth orbit that are being tracked.
Credit: U.S. Space Force

COLORADO SPRINGS—The U.S. Space Force is looking to extend the capacity of its cloud-based data repository known as the Unified Data Library (UDL) by bringing in hundreds of thousands of data points from the Space Fence surveillance system.

The UDL, which started in 2018 as a joint effort between the Air Force Research Laboratory and the then-Space and Missile Systems Command, brings together information from both commercial and government sources for space and air domain awareness. The UDL provides data on space objects and flightpaths at multiple classified levels and is the space data provider for efforts such as the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control.

Colorado Springs-based Bluestaq began the UDL effort with a small business contract in 2018, and the company in March 2021 received a $280 million contract to expand the effort. 

Space Systems Command (SSC) is prototyping and experimenting with directly connecting the Lockheed Martin Space Fence surveillance system into the data library, the first time sensors would directly feed into the library, SSC’s Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. D. Jason Cothern says. This would include between 250,000 and 500,000 Space Fence observations. 

“The UDL is our data lake that we’re trying to put a lot of information in and then see … how we can use all of that data, fuse it in a way that provides, maybe, capabilities that we hadn’t really thought of,” Cothern said at the Space Symposium here. “And so, part of that is the ingestion and the processing of the space surveillance network data.”

SSC works with the Department of the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office to feed space data into the service’s Advanced Battle Management System. 

During the U.S. Army’s Project Convergence 2021 in September, the UDL connected multiple systems in an adversary missile launch scenario. During the event, two F-35As transmitted Link 16 target information to a ground command and control, which then uploaded the data into the UDL. The Army’s tactical data bus Rainmaker pulled data, which was fed into an artificial intelligence algorithm that recommended the right shooter—a Multiple Launch Rocket System that then fired at the target.

During the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the UDL also integrated data such as aircraft racks, mission status, logistics and supply chain, which was fed into the Warp Core platform to update military leaders and other governmental officials on the ongoing operations. 

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.