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Commercial Integration Cell pilot program underway

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- U.S. Strategic Command's (USSTRATCOM) Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC Space) initiated a six-month pilot program incorporating commercial operators into its Joint Space Operations Center, here, June 1.

This Commercial Integration Cell (CIC) pilot program establishes a research and development environment within the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) to explore the operational, technical and legal aspects of a partnership between the Department of Defense and industry, leveraging mutual capabilities and information sets to enhance Space Domain Awareness and improve the JFCC Space Commander's Space Operational Command and Control. 

For the initial pilot program, attendees of the semiannual JFCC Space Commercial Operator Talks, all signatories of USSTRATCOM Space Situational Awareness Sharing Agreements, agreed that a smaller pool of participants would support the research and development intent.  Six operators were then chosen based on the scope of their contributions to U.S. DoD operations: Intelsat, SES Government Solutions, Inmarsat, Eutelsat, DigitalGlobe and Iridium.  It is anticipated that these operators will, within proprietary constraints, reach out to other commercial operators as needed by JSpOC personnel. 

After the conclusion of the pilot program, JFCC Space will conduct the necessary operational reviews to assess the long-term viability of the program and establish a framework for moving forward.

"The Commercial Integration Cell is a method of pursuing greater cooperation and synergy in the space environment by integrating liaison personnel from the commercial sector within the JSpOC," said U.S. Navy Cmdr. David Samara, deputy director of strategy and plans, JFCC Space.  "The CIC will allow for rapid identification, diagnosis and resolution of on-orbit anomalies while also increasing the overall resilience of U.S. government satellite operations." 

Specifically, the CIC pilot will explore ways to integrate commercial industry capabilities into day-to-day DoD space operations.  Industry liaisons on the JSpOC floor will provide insight into commercial industry perspectives, enable direct JSpOC and commercial operations center interaction and define requirements for technical solutions to optimize data sharing and enhanced Space Domain Awareness.

The CIC concept builds on current relationships started with formal USSTRATCOM SSA Sharing Agreements and establishes the next steps for enhanced data sharing, aims to produce higher quality conjunction assessment data for operational safety and mission assurance and establishes a process for reporting, tracking, resolving and measuring interference events impacting DoD and commercial satellite communications.

Consistent with U.S. National Security Space Strategy, "JFCC Space has actively pursued increasingly robust partnerships within the academic and commercial sectors; the CIC pilot is the next step in our ongoing efforts to partner with like-minded space-faring entities to promote the peaceful and responsible use of space," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jay Raymond, JFCC Space and 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic) Commander.

This collaborative effort will improve decision making, enhance both DoD and commercial crisis preparedness and develop procedures for sharing applicable cyber and other relevant indications and warning that impact the space domain.

The overall research and development of the CIC concept during the pilot program, to include but not limited to the legalities, obligations and party expectations, will be governed by Cooperative Research and Development Agreements; these agreements are approved by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and address technology transfer challenges between Air Force activities and commercial collaborators

The CIC pilot program will utilize existing information technology support and working space on the JSpOC operations floor at no cost to the government.  Additionally, all of the participants in the pilot program have gone through the standard investigative process and have previously obtained the appropriate security clearances to enable their participation during the pilot.