SpaceX will provide NASA with space asset and debris location data that will be gathered through the global navigation satellite service receivers of the Starlink spacecraft to address conjunction and collision risks.
NASA said Friday its partnership with SpaceX is aimed at ensuring that the company's Starlink satellites and the agency's spacecraft are coordinated to avoid a collision or prevent a close approach between the assets.
"With commercial companies launching more and more satellites, it's critical we increase communications, exchange data, and establish best practices to ensure we all maintain a safe space environment," said Steve Jurczyk, acting administrator of NASA.
Aside from the orbital parameter estimation-capable receivers, the Starlink satellite is also fitted with an ion propulsion system and is capable of autonomous maneuvering. Its features enable the satellite to proactively exchange information.
The joint agreement between NASA and SpaceX supports the agency's efforts with the Department of Defense to manage collision risk.
NASA also published the Spacecraft Conjunction Assessment and Collision Avoidance Best Practices Handbook that includes information on best practices for coordinating in-orbit activity in a safe and responsible manner.