Our core mission at LeoLabs has always been to enable a safer and more sustainable operating environment in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). One of the most direct ways we can achieve this goal is to provide satellite owner-operators with accurate, timely location data on thousands of other satellites and pieces of space debris. By having access to actionable, real-time conjunction risk information, operators can make informed decisions on whether a collision avoidance maneuver is necessary.
This is the foundation of LeoLabs Collision Avoidance, our flagship web data & analytics service enabling operational safety of flight used by satellite owner-operators around the world.
Today, we’re excited to announce OneWeb as our newest customer!
LeoLabs and OneWeb have entered into a multi-year agreement where we’ll be providing LeoLabs Collision Avoidance to support operational safety of flight for OneWeb’s growing fleet of spacecraft.
The OneWeb Constellation
OneWeb is launching a constellation of 648 satellites to provide global broadband internet services for their customers. As of January 2022, the company has made substantial progress with more than 60% of its constellation in flight (394 satellites).
Here’s a look at the current constellation in the LeoLabs LEO 3D visualization environment — this page will continue to update on its own as new OneWeb satellites are launched, so check back often!
OneWeb and Responsible Space
Since it was founded, OneWeb has been dedicated to industry leading responsible space practices — being bound by some of the highest legislative standards globally. These include French-designed satellites and their nationally mandated de-orbiting requirements, in addition to the UK Government’s UNOOSA (United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs) commitments.
In OneWeb’s first generation satellite design, they can accommodate either a grappling fixture or a magnetic docking plate so that they can be de-orbited or serviced via Active Debris Removal (ADR) servicer, should that become necessary. In addition, OneWeb has responsible operational practices for all stages of the mission and is engaged in the European Space Agency (ESA) Sunrise programme to help foster a wider community of responsible space operations.
With LeoLabs Collision Avoidance, OneWeb’s information database about its fleet will be enhanced even further — receiving streaming, real-time data feeds about the locations of other satellites and space debris, to ensure the OneWeb constellation continues to be deployed in a sustainable manner.
John Guiney, Vice President of Fleet Operations at OneWeb, commented:
“OneWeb believes space is a shared natural resource that can be harnessed for good today and should be protected for use for future generations. Today’s agreement is another positive step as part of our responsible space policies. LeoLabs’ Collision Avoidance tools will further enhance our ability to monitor our constellation as we prepare to launch global service in 2022. We look forward to continuing to play a lead role in responsible operations and space safety.”
With OneWeb as a valued LeoLabs customer, LeoLabs Collision Avoidance is now utilized by the three largest constellations in the world — SpaceX, OneWeb, and Planet (among others), constituting operational support for more than 2,400 active satellites today — representing ~60% of all operational satellites in LEO.
LeoLabs Collision Avoidance
LeoLabs is the only commercial Space Situational Awareness (SSA) provider that offers a true end-to-end collision avoidance service built on its own tracking data and already scaled to support the rapidly growing LEO environment. LeoLabs Collision Avoidance is driven by our phased-array radar network that routinely tracks 18,000+ resident space objects (RSOs) in LEO, and our cloud-based space operations platform that creates millions of data products every hour for our customers.
Though LeoLabs Collision Avoidance functions as a stand-alone service, it’s designed to work perfectly with the conjunction alerting service provided by the US Government that is used by many satellite owner-operators. Our system ingests the Conjunction Data Messages (CDMs) generated by the 18th Space Control Squadron (18 SPCS) and combines them with LeoLabs own CDMs into a consolidated, modern system architecture where both alerts are available to the users through the LeoLabs platform interface, eliminating the need to retrieve conjunction alerts from multiple locations.
OneWeb Safety of Flight
OneWeb’s ground system architecture will integrate LeoLabs Collision Avoidance services through our RESTful APIs and web interfaces to provide the following system performance upgrades:
- Real-time data deliveries and conjunction alerts, with latencies of less than 10 minutes from orbit to API
- Increased automation of day-to-day tasks, such as on-demand ephemeris screenings for near-instant maneuver planning verification, reducing wait times by 99.9%
- Aggregation of all conjunction alerts from LeoLabs and 18 SPCS into consolidated conjunction analysis reports, continuously updated with the latest risk metrics and trends over time
- Conjunction alerts generated against other operators’ ephemerides; the LeoLabs platform currently has near-hourly ephemeris contributions from thousands of operational satellites in LEO for continuous conjunction screenings, including OneWeb, SpaceX, Planet, Iridium, and more
- Operational resiliency and responsiveness designed for modern ground system architectures, with a rapidly growing sensor network and future tracking of small debris
The LeoLabs and OneWeb teams will also work together on a regular basis to discuss operational best practices, analyze high risk events as they arise, and stay informed on the effects that space events such as the recent Cosmos 1408 breakup can have on OneWeb’s overall operational risk so they can make the most informed decisions.
We look forward to supporting OneWeb as a valued customer and partner in our mutual missions to preserve the space operating environment in LEO!
Written by Matthew Shouppe, LeoLabs Senior Director of Commercial Space