The L3Harris Technologies’ [LHX] ATLAS system is to improve significantly the U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) space domain awareness through machine-to-machine processing of commercial, civil, and military space data.
Omitron and Parsons Corp. [PSN] are subcontractors on USSF Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC) ATLAS, which is 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 (NORAD) Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado.
In October, 2018, SMC, then part of the U.S. Air Force, awarded a $53 million contract to L3Harris for ATLAS, a program that has slipped under the radar of military space analysts and journalists until now.
“The biggest limfac [limiting factor] we’re facing in SMC that we’re getting after is with the delivery of the SPADOC replacement that’s called ATLAS and our ability to get to that digital side in space domain awareness,” Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, the deputy commander of USSF’s Space Operations Command, told a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies forum on May 3.
USSF Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond and Army Gen. James Dickinson, the head of U.S. Space Command, “have been working years to replace” SPADOC, which is “built on a Cold War mentality and a very limited set of data,” Burt said. “As we get to ATLAS, it’s going to allow us to do more apps, do more digital work, to then take in all those non-traditional data sources machine-to-machine and allow for the calculations of that.”
Gordon Kordyak, the USSF’s executive agent for space domain awareness in Colorado Springs, leads the USSF Pivot Space Domain Awareness effort.
“It looks directly at how can we leverage commercial capabilities, coalition capabilities and processing to automate this so we really put the brainpower on what space domain awareness is, which is the foundation for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance,” Burt said. “As we move toward that—we’re supposed to deliver that in the spring of 2022, I think you’re going to see huge leaps in our space domain awareness capabilities and really where we need to get to for the next elements.”
Begun in 2009, the Joint Space Operations Center Mission System (JMS) was an earlier SMC effort to replace SPADOC, but the Air Force cancelled 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.