The United States Space Surveillance Network detects, tracks, catalogs and identifies artificial objects orbiting Earth, e.g. active/inactive satellites, spent rocket bodies, or fragmentation debris. The system is the responsibility of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, part of the United States Space Force (formerly USSPACECOM (United States Space Command)).

Space surveillance accomplishes the following:[citation needed]

  • Predict when and where a decaying space object will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere;
  • Prevent a returning space object, which to radar looks like a missile, from triggering a false alarm in missile-attack warning sensors of the U.S. and other countries;
  • Chart the present position of space objects and plot their anticipated orbital paths;
  • Detect new artificial objects in space;
  • Correctly map objects travelling in the Earth's orbit;
  • Produce a running catalog of artificial space objects;
  • Determine ownership of a re-entering space object;
  • Inform NASA whether or not objects[which?] may interfere with the International Space Station or satellite orbits.

The SPACETRACK[clarification needed] program represents a worldwide Space Surveillance Network (SSN) of dedicated, collateral, and contributing electro-optical, passive radio frequency (RF) and radar sensors. The SSN is tasked[by whom?] to provide space object cataloging and identification, satellite attack warning, timely notification to U.S. forces of satellite fly-over, space treaty monitoring, and scientific and technical intelligence gathering. The continued increase in satellite and orbital debris populations, as well as the increasing diversity in launch trajectories, non-standard orbits, and geosynchronous altitudes, necessitates continued modernization of the SSN to meet existing and future requirements and ensure their cost-effective supportability.[1]

SPACETRACK also developed the systems interfaces necessary for the command and control, targeting, and damage assessment of a potential future U.S. anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) system. There is an Image Information Processing Center and Supercomputing facility at the Air Force Maui Optical Station (AMOS). The resources and responsibility for the HAVE STARE Radar System development were transferred to SPACETRACK from an intelligence program per Congressional direction in FY93.[citation needed]