U.S. Space Force conducted testing of the L3Harris Technologies’ [LHX] Advanced Tracking and Launch Analysis System (ATLAS) in June and July, as Space Force moves to operationalize ATLAS to replace the Space Defense Operations Center (SPADOC), a space situational awareness computer system established in 1979 at the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado.
Space command and control (C2) “relies on modern software development practices such as agile software development, DevSecOps, and lean practices to deliver capabilities to operators incrementally,” Col. Chris Kadala, senior materiel leader for space command and control at Space Force’s Space Systems Center (SSC), wrote in an email.
“Using a continuous improvement/continuous development pipeline that incorporates operator feedback at each iteration of the software’s development, space C2 can identify and make critical and timely adjustments to the software early and continuously throughout the development life cycle, while capabilities continue to be delivered,” he wrote. “As a part of this process, ATLAS successfully completed developmental testing of observation processing during June-July. The results of the testing showed that ATLAS-based observation processing achieved object association accuracy goals while providing horizontal scalability for the higher volume space environment of the future.”
ATLAS is to pull data from the future Space Force Unified Data Library (UDL) to modernize space command and control to improve space domain awareness (SDA), but the timeline for fielding UDL has been uncertain (Defense Daily, Apr. 14).
“ATLAS will be a modernized platform for hosting SDA applications to deprecate legacy C2 systems,” Kadala wrote in his email. “It is intended to improve operator workflows through automation and integration.”
Space Force has been prototyping UDL to serve as a centralized, cloud-based data repository for space domain awareness/space defense, and likely for the Department of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System and the Pentagon’s Joint All Domain Command and Control architecture
Last year, Colorado-based Bluestaq LLC received a $280 million contract to develop the UDL for the USSF (Defense Daily, May 4, 2021). One organization that has been involved in UDL testing and that will use UDL is U.S. Space Command’s Joint Task Force-Space Defense at Schriever Space Force Base, Colo.
SSC said that “latency” requirements for the speed of data delivery will help determine the shape of UDL and edge information nodes and a timeline for the fielding of UDL, which is to permit the rapid flow of needed data to decision makers and military forces in combat.
Following Space Force’s operational acceptance of Palantir Technologies’ Warp Core tech stack last October to allow the 18th Space Control Squadron to access legacy data feeds, as previously done by the decommissioned Joint Space Operations Center Mission System (JMS) Service Pack 9 (SP-9), SSC is moving to field applications for ATLAS.
Space Force expects ATLAS’ machine-to-machine interfaces to lead to a dramatic increase in the speed of processing and integrating space domain awareness data from a variety of commercial, civil, and military space sensors.
Omitron and Parsons Corp. [PSN] are subcontractors to L3Harris on ATLAS.
Begun in 2009, JMS was an Air Force effort to replace SPADOC, but the Air Force canceled JMS in 2019 after it faced technical and cost challenges. JMS was to process and integrate inputs from a variety of sensors, including Lockheed Martin‘s [LMT] ground-based Space Fence radar. Omitron was a subcontractor on JMS’ Increment 2–the effort to make JMS operational.
In October 2018, the Department of the Air Force awarded a $53 million contract to L3Harris for ATLAS.