August 3rd, 2010 15:44 EST
Report Issued: North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)
The Secure World Foundation has released a report that examines the history, formation, and valuable operations of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
NORAD is a bi-national United States and Canadian organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. Aerospace warning includes the monitoring of human-made objects in space, and the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, through mutual support arrangements with other commands.
The just-issued report " The NORAD Experience: Implications for International Space Surveillance Data Sharing " examines the NORAD relationship and experience, then draws from those lessons for sharing space situational awareness (SSA) information.
Today, SSA -- collecting information about activities in space and their impacts -- is increasingly critical to avoiding collisions and thus ensure the long-term sustainability of space.
Meeting challenges in the post-9/11 world
At the beginning of the Cold War, when the prospect of nuclear attack on North America loomed large, the United States and Canada created a military command that combined the resources of both nations and charged it with the mission to warn of nuclear attacks on the entire continent.
Over fifty years later the positive NORAD partnership remains strong and has adapted to meeting challenges in the post-9/11 world.
The new report by the Secure World Foundation (SWF) highlights key elements of NORAD`s success, including its flexible charter, which allowed it to adapt to new challenges, and the role that institutional champions and generational change played in its acceptance by both the American and Canadian governments and their militaries.
As outlined in the report, the lessons derived from this success could prove valuable to the efforts currently ongoing in the United States and other countries that are examining how to share SSA information.
Forged out of necessity
NORAD was an entity forged out of necessity ", said Brian Weeden, SWF`s Technical Advisor and Project Lead for the report. Canada had the geography, and the United States had the manpower. Alone, neither could have accomplished the mission but together they did, " Weeden said.
The same applies to space situational awareness, Weeden said. No one nation or region can truly achieve comprehensive SSA by itself. It will require comparable levels of cooperation and data sharing to do it right. The United States, Russia, China, Europe, and other nations all have SSA capabilities, but no one nation has a complete picture of the space domain. "
It really is quite an amazing accomplishment ", said James Bennett, the report`s author. Many people don`t realize that before World War I, the U.S. and Canada had a rocky, sometime violent, relationship and little to no history of cooperation and trust. "
Nevertheless, they found a way to work together and trust each other when it came time to protect citizens in both countries from nuclear attack, Bennett added.
Earth orbit could become unsustainable
As the amount of space debris continues to grow and the prospect of more satellite collisions -- like the one between Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251 in February 2009 " there is a danger that satellite operations in Earth orbit could become unsustainable. If that happens, it would mean that nations no longer would be able to use space for all the benefits it currently provides.
NORAD is proof that it is possible for countries to set aside their political differences and work together ", says Victoria Samson, SWF`s Washington Office Director, and although there are significant challenges involved in sharing SSA data among all space actors, we can look to NORAD for inspiration on how it can be done. "
-- The full report -- The NORAD Experience: Implications for International Space Surveillance Data Sharing-- can be downloaded from the SWF website at:
-- An executive summary of the report is also available on the SWF website at:
For more information on the report or space situational awareness and space sustainability in general, contact:
Brian Weeden, Technical Advisor
Secure World Foundation
Phone: +1 514 466 2756
Victoria Samson, Washington, D.C. Office Director
Secure World Foundation
Phone: +1 202 462 1841
About Secure World Foundation
Secure World Foundation (SWF) is headquartered in Superior, Colorado, with offices in Washington, D.C. and Vienna, Austria. SWF is a private operating foundation dedicated to the secure and sustainable use of space for the benefit of Earth and all its peoples.
SWF engages with academics, policy makers, scientists and advocates in the space and international affairs communities to support steps that strengthen global space sustainability. It promotes the development of cooperative and effective use of space for the protection of Earth`s environment and human security.
The Foundation acts as a research body, convener and facilitator to advocate for key space security and other space related topics and to examine their influence on governance and international development.
Source: Secure World Foundation