Broadcast 2944 T.S. Kelso

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  T.S. Kelso;  Topics:  Commercial and government space traffic management, satellite control, cyber issues, EMP risks and more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,   Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See    

We welcomed T.S. Kelso of AGI and COMSpOC to discuss issues surrounding bot government and commercial space traffic management and space situational awareness..  During the first segment of our 95 minute discussion, Mr. Kelso started out with a brief history of space traffic management issues, especially the importance of knowing where the satellite was in real time.  This issue of knowing accurately where the satellite was at any given time was as you will hear, an overriding issue and major topic of today’s program.  We talked about operator capability, government capability and what the private sector has been able to do to evolve the state of the art of space situational awareness.  You do not want to miss this comprehensive discussion which took place over most of the first segment of our discussion. 

We talked about key organizations during the segment which you will want to know about.  One was the Space Data Center ( and another was CelesTrak (  Note that for the Space Data Center which consists of 15 member countries, Russia, China, and India do not participate in it.  For data from those three countries, those handling space situational and traffic management issues must rely on non-cooperative tracking carried out by the U.S. government.  Don't miss this discussion.  Later in the segment, I asked TS about satellites and the paths they fly given he said that sometimes satellite spacing can be about 20 meters.  I asked him if this was similar to highways, airline routes that are frequently used (imaginary highways in the sky) and sea lanes.  This turned out to be an interesting discussion. T.S. used cars as an example.  He also talked about moving satellites to avoid collision with another bird or debris.  He made a point of saying that space was a very different environment but in some ways it was like managing air or sea traffic.  He spoke about the GEO orbit as another example.  At one point he said that there were currently 450 active satellites in the GEO orbit.

As we were nearing the end of the first segment, Mary from Seattle asked T.S. what the primary advantage was of commercial operations in the industry.  The brief answer was transparency but don't miss all of what our guest had to say on this issue.  I then asked if there were competitive commercial operations to the one that TS was involved in and talking about.  Adrian then sent in a note asking about the now defunct Space Fence wanting to know if a private company might be able to take over the defunct asset for private sector usage.  Don't miss what TS said about that.  Briefly, he thought it was likely defunct, badly out of repair and out of date so he was not optimistic about the private sector using it.  We then got an email from listener Mike who said that has an amateur radio operator, he used to tap into the Space Fence for RF signals to track satellites from his yard. He sent us this article to read about his story:

In the second segment, we talked about situational awareness and traffic management issues with cubesats.  Our guest had much to say on this topic so you definitely want to listen to all of what he said.  He listed the problems and challenges presented by cubesats.  I suspect you will be surprised by what you hear, especially when you hear that they are not often seen by the equipment yet they are there and this presents risks.  He listed a few examples of this to illustrate the problems.  This discussion gave our guest the entry to talk about much needed education on space situational awareness, a topic of great interest to him. 

Listener Barbara wanted to know why there were not more accidents with space hardware collisions.  Don't miss what TS said in reply to this question.  Randy from Denver wanted to know if any of the organizations mentioned by TS were in touch with the large constellation satellite companies such as One Webb and SpaceX.  He said they were in touch with One Webb but not SpaceX as of yet though he was sure SpaceX was addressing the challenges regarding situation awareness with regards to large numbers of satellites in a constellation.  Dr. Doug sent in a question regarding settlements in LEO that would require the orbital debris situation be mitigated.  Doug wanted to know just how much of a barrier this might be to LEO settlement.  Don't miss what TS had to say on this subject.  Briefly, think significant challenge and possible barrier.

Near the end of the program I asked TS about cyber protection issues for the satellites and the ground stations.  TS had much to say about both so don't miss it.  Note that many of the older satellites did not use encryption though for the more modern day hardware, encryption and other protective devices are being used.  It was an interesting discussion.  The final question for the show dealt with the risks of a nuclear EMP on our satellites and grid.  As you will hear, TS used to teach this subject to his students and knows the issues very well.  This is a must hear end of the show discussion.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this program.  Note the link and the photo placed on our blog on behalf of TS.  You can reach TS Kelso through me or the website link posted on the blog or per his comments on air.  Also note that he said he would answer questions if sent to him.  That said, if you will, post your comments on the blog for everyone to see and learn from.  I will forward them to TS and ask that he respond on the blog.




Commercial space situational awareness and more

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10 Jul 2017 T.S. Kelso
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