Space traffic management: towards safe and unsegregated space transport operations

Samuel Hilton, Roberto Sabatini, Alessandro Gardi, Hideaki Ogawa, Paolo Teofilatto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Progress in spaceflight research has led to the introduction of various manned and unmanned reusable space vehicle concepts, opening up uncharted opportunities for the newborn space transport industry. For future space transport operations to be technically and commercially viable, it is critical that an acceptable level of safety is provided, requiring the development of novel mission planning and decision support tools that utilize advanced Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) technologies, and allowing a seamless integration of space operations in the current Air Traffic Management (ATM) network. A review of emerging platform operational concepts is conducted, highlighting both the challenges and the opportunities brought in by the integration with conventional atmospheric air transport. Common launch and re-entry planning methodologies are then discussed, where the physical and computational limitations of these approaches are identified and applicability to future commercial space transport operations is assessed. Attention is then turned to the on-orbit phase, where the unique hazards of the space environment are examined, followed by an overview to the necessary elements required for space object de-confliction and collision avoidance modelling. The regulatory framework evolutions required for spacecraft operations are then discussed, with a focus on space debris mitigation strategies and operational risk assessment. Within the atmospheric domain, possible extensions and alternatives to the conventional airspace segregation approaches are identified including promising Air Traffic Flow Management (ATFM) techniques to facilitate the integration of new-entrant platforms. Lastly, recent modelling approaches to meet on-orbit risk criteria are discussed and evolutionary requirements to improve current operational procedures are identified. These insights will inform future research on CNS/ATM and Avionics (CNS + A) systems and associated cyber-physical architectures for Space Traffic Management (STM).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-125
Number of pages28
JournalProgress in Aerospace Sciences
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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