tech track papers

Categories: 2018, Aircraft Safety in a Space World and Mission Assurance

Cooperative National Airspace: Air Traffic Integration and Situational Awareness

An integrated Space and Air Traffic Management System (SATMS) is one of the key initiatives of the FAA. This goal to achieve an aerospace environment in which space and aviation operations are seamless and integrated in a modernized, efficient National Airspace System (NAS) is a cumbersome and sizeable task; it requires full cooperation from airspace users, policy makers, and regulators. An integral part of achieving a modernized, efficient NAS is incorporating commercial space transportation. As more commercial launch vehicle providers emerge, the NAS will become more congested. Achieving the SATMS goal requires more efficient air traffic integration methods and greater situational awareness.


For over a decade, Millennium has provided software solutions for supporting air traffic integration and situational awareness for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), orbital spacecraft, and launch vehicles. Millennium’s Space Program Integrated Data and Estimated Risk (SPIDER) system, used as the FAA’s Space Data Integrator (SDI) prototype, is designed to provide situational awareness for launch and reentry vehicles, and UAS and NAS traffic.  SPIDER interfaces are vehicle agnostic and integrate with existing FAA systems for situational awareness within the NAS, fostering an environment for rapid response to off-nominal conditions. SPIDER ingests launch and reentry vehicle telemetry data, and offers operators a real-time display of current launch vehicle characteristics including present position, a drag-corrected instantaneous impact point, hazard areas, and other points of interest. SPIDER streams vehicle position information to NAS traffic management systems for situational awareness, decreasing the impact to the airspace, and reopening critical air corridors expeditiously. This tool and concept illustrates that current launch and reentry vehicles can be integrated into the NAS, a vital component of an integrated SATMS. With more comprehensive air traffic integration and situational awareness in mind, implementation of tools such as SPIDER provide the next step to realize a modernized, efficient NAS.