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Gravity – our nod to an awe-inspiring ode to space exploration and the perils of debris

By: Stef C
Can you believe it’s been nearly 20 years since Apollo 13 was up for the Best Picture Academy Award (against nominees Babe, Il Postino, Sense and Sensibility and Braveheart, which won)? This Sunday evening, another space-themed film will get its due. There are no doubts that Gravity is going to take home a slew of technical awards, and the odds are pretty good for its director, Alfonso Cuarón, to garner a statuette (sorry Sandra Bullock, I think it’s Cate Blanchett’s year). Whether or not Gravity bests 12 Years a Slave for the biggest prize of the night remains to be seen, but the film is a winner in our book for (some accuracy aside) the light it shone on space exploration, the extreme bravery and resilience of astronauts and last, but certainly not least in our eyes, the very real dangers of space debris. This is an issue that is one of AGI’s primary focuses. Space situational awareness (SSA) is the knowledge of space objects, events and the status of satellites. It entails keeping track of all objects in space and understanding how the space picture is changing over time. The ability to protect space-related capabilities from either attack or interference is critical (as depicted to dramatic effect in the film). Our VP of business development, Paul Welsh, has spent the past week at the Japan Space Forum’s (JSF’s) 3rd International SSA Symposium in Tokyo discussing our software capabilities and solutions for SSA. Perhaps highest among them is our SSA Software Suite, which is being implemented as the astrodynamic core of the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) Mission System (JMS) Program to deliver integrated, net-centric SSA and Space Command & Control (C2) capability to the US Air Force. Another achievement of which we are very proud is the Space Data Center, a highly available, secure and automated SSA analysis system which provides its satellite owner/operator members with full conjunction assessment (CA) capability and data sharing in support of radio frequency interference (RFI) mitigation. AGI serves as the creator and operator of the Center, and the Chief Technology Advisor to its founders, the Space Data Association (SDA). At the JSF event, Paul introduced attendees to AGI’s latest commercial SSA initiative—the Commercial Space Operations Center (ComSpOC). A global network of diverse commercial sensors provides measurements to the ComSpOC that facilitate a robust, integrated system for 24/7 tracking of objects in Earth orbit. The ComSpOC uses AGI's SSA technology to deliver analysis products such as space object characterization, maneuver detection, proximity monitoring and RF interference. The ComSpOC is intended to serve as a commercial complement to existing government capabilities. You can learn more about the ComSpOC next week, when Paul Welsh will delve deeper into this exciting new service via his own blog. And if you’re attending Satellite 2014 the week of March 10 in DC, you can see it in action in Booth 8133. And if you haven’t seen Gravity yet, it’s available for rent now. I recommend a viewing before Sunday’s Academy Awards Ceremony so you can see what all the fuss is about: 91 minutes of breathtaking cinematography about the passion and peril of space exploration.
Posted: 2/28/2014 9:12:19 PM