Getting ready for space traffic management

Higher airspace operations and space traffic management were in the spotlight at the Future Skies Theatre.

Rocket flies through the clouds on moonlight 3d illustration

The session covered the second phase of the European Concept of Higher airspace Operations (ECHO2) project, which is running for three years (2023-2026) and includes multiple partners.

The aim is to provide an interface between conventional air traffic management (ATM) and higher airspace operations, including space traffic.

ECHO2 will include a module for monitoring space launches in Network Manager for increased situational awareness. There will also be procedural packages covering specific ground and air-ground issues, including the integration of supersonic, hypersonic and suborbital vehicle operations into ATM.

It was noted that the right coordination mechanisms between ATM and space traffic management are essential to future operations. ECHO2 will lead to validated solutions that support the further development of this exciting new sector.

It was also stressed that although this is a European initiative, space launches anywhere in the world are global events and are happening at an increasing rate. A second stage of a rocket can come back down to Earth half a world away and often the ANSPS affected are those with the least resources.

Moreover, because this is a fast-developing area and there will be new standards and services as technologies improve and traffic increases, it is vital to build the best possible foundation at the earliest opportunity and use that to inform decisions.