WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force is getting closer to replacing its aging space command-and-control system.
The service has been working since 2018 to replace the Space Defense Operations Center (SPADOC) with a more modernized command-and-control capability, the Advanced Tracking and Launch Analysis System (ATLAS), developed by L3Harris. ATLAS is being designed to improve the Space Force’s ability to identify, characterize and understand increasing activity in space — from growing commercial constellations to adversary activity and space debris.
Last month, the service awarded L3Harris a two-year, $49.7 million task order to develop and integrate a suite of command-and-control tools, expanding the company’s role from prime contractor to lead integrator.
In a Feb. 3 press release, L3Harris described its role as overseeing deployment of ATLAS applications. Under the award, the company will collaborate with operators and use modern software development processes to deliver new capabilities.
That work will ultimately position the service to decommission SPADOC.
“When ATLAS is deployed, operators and stakeholders will coordinate to make sure ATLAS reaches the operational acceptance milestone to implement the SPADOC decommissioning minimum viable capabilities,” the service said in its own press release.
According to the Space Force, the first minimum viable capability set — the baseline features that can be fielded for operational use — is expected to be delivered by the end of September. That initial MVC will allow the system to receive, process and analyze sensor observation data and then use it for space domain awareness. Other MVCs include automated processing and maintenance of the space catalog, orbit determination and processing of satellite conjunctions.
ATLAS is just one piece of the Space Force’s broader effort to modernize its command-and-control infrastructure and applications. On Jan. 26, Space Systems Command announced that the acceptance of a new, commercially-available data processing layer called Warp Core has allowed it to begin the process of taking the Joint Space Operations Center Mission System (JMS) offline.
“The operational acceptance of Warp Core on Oct. 1, 2021, along with the transition of modernized capabilities, data feeds and secure connections being delivered to warfighters allows for the physical decommissioning of JMS,” the service said in a press release.
The new Warp Core capability will integrate with ATLAS to improve data ingestion, retention and processing. It will also support other tactical operations and strategic planning efforts across the Department of Defense. For example, the system supported North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command during a recent Global Information Dominance Experiment, providing real-time domain awareness for several combatant commands.
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.