The U.S. Space Force (USSF) is operationalizing Palantir Technologies’ [PLTR] Warp Core tech stack, as the service moves toward fielding L3Harris Technologies’ [LHX] Advanced Tracking and Launch Analysis System (ATLAS) for improved Space Domain Awareness (SDA).
The Space Force Space Systems Command (SSC) space command and control program “began the decommissioning of Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) Mission System (JMS) Service Pack 9 (SP-9) this month, marking a significant step towards the continued modernization of SDA capabilities for the nation,” SSC said on Jan. 26.
Omitron and Parsons Corp. [PSN] are subcontractors on 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 Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado. The Air Force last upgraded SPADOC in 1989.
ATLAS is to harness machine-to-machine interfaces to accelerate the provision of space domain awareness data to USSF personnel. L3Harris first received a $53 million contract for ATLAS in October 2018, Recently, the company received another nearly $50 million USSF contract for ATLAS development for colllaboration “with mission operators, government and industry stakeholders, using modern software development methods, such as DevSecOps, Agile and User-Centered Design,” USSF said.
“SSC’s modernization of USSF’s SDA capabilities through ATLAS will enable the decommissioning of the SPADOC system,” Space Force said. “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[[MVCs]. MVCs are the initial set of features suitable to be fielded to an operational environment that provides value to the warfighter or end user in a rapid timeline.”
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.
“Space Domain Awareness capabilities are more important than ever given recent events such as Russia’s Anti-Satellite test that occurred this past November,” Col. Wallace “Rhet” Turnbull, the director of SSC Cross Mission Ground and Communications Enterprise.Turnbull, said in the SSC Jan. 26 statement. “The decommissioning of JMS SP-9 demonstrates the progress we have made in this critical mission area and our commitment to improve the way we do business to ensure the safety and security of our nation’s space assets and astronauts.”
Space Force has said that ATLAS is on track to be operational this spring, as the service develops higher classification levels for the Unified Data Library (UDL) that will be a significant part of the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) and the DoD Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) effort (Defense Daily, July 30, 2021).
“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, allowed for the physical decommissioning of JMS,” SSC said on Jan. 26. “Warp Core is a commercially available capability used for data ingestion, retention, processing, and normalization to relay information to decision-makers effectively and efficiently across the U.S. Department of Defense and serves as a data layer for ATLAS.”
In addition, SSC said that Warp Core helped provide “secure, live collaboration environment for tactical, operational, and strategic planning for information dominance operations for NORAD/NORTHCOM [North American Aerospace Defense Command/U.S. Northern Command], situational awareness and decision-making.”
The commands “leveraged Warp Core during the [DoD] Global Information Dominance Experiment series to support accurate data sharing and real-time situational awareness for operational execution across multiple Combatant Commands,” SSC said. “Additionally, Warp Core provides enterprise data management and operations software solutions for humanitarian relief efforts such as Operation Allies Refuge and Operations Allies Welcome supporting the evacuation and relocation of tens of thousands of Afghan allies, including those who worked alongside the U.S. in Afghanistan.”
Last May, Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, the deputy commander of USSF’s Space Operations Command, said that the biggest limiting factor in improving SDA was SPADOC and that ATLAS’ integration of ground-based and space-based sensor inputs from commercial, civil and military users would lead to “huge leaps” in SDA (Defense Daily, May 3, 2021).