European citizens and governments rely on satellites for a growing number of crucial tasks. Any shutdown of these systems would seriously affect an enormous range of commercial and civil activities, including travel, transportation, telecommunications, information technology and broadcasting, to name but a few. But today, Europe has no autonomous capability to watch for and warn of hazards to its vital satellites and ground infrastructure.
In 2009, ESA member states asked the Agency to embark on a new programme, known as Space Situational Awareness, or SSA. Now in its initial phase, SSA aims to develop Europe's own scanning, detection and warning capabilities against space weather, space debris and natural near-earth objects.
This programme provides a profile and latest updates on SSA developments in 2011.