Libre Space Signs Agreement with US Space Command

Did I miss this somewhere? I’m amazed I only finding out through 3rd parties…

–Roy
K3RLD

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Follow up: What is Libre Space getting out of this? Is there a copy of the agreement we can see?

[edit]

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Ya, this seems like a huge deal. Kind of mind boggling, actually. Would love to see the agreement, if possible.

No you didn’t ! We just received the signed copy on our side late last week :wink: Press release came out over the weekend and SpaceNews picked it up asap :slight_smile:

Just to be clear: our SSA sharing agreement with USSPACECOM is categorized as “commercial” only because they don’t have a category for the type of entity we are (i.e. non-profit but private). There is no exchange of funds whatsoever.

On a broader note regarding the gist of the Agreement: It is no secret that through analyzing SatNOGS data and the careful work of @cgbsat @PE0SAT @fredy @kerel and others we have been consistently doing a ton of work for identifications and orbit determination (broadly SSA work) for new objects launched over the past year and a half. This tremendous work has not gone unnoticed by the missions first and foremost, but also from the 18th SPCS (part of USSPACECOM) that runs and maintains space-track.org and gathers information for precise cataloguing and identification of new objects. We have had a really good working relation with the 18th so far but due to the nature of their organization, an SSA Sharing Agreement makes it easier for their analyst to consume our open data and work with us.

That’s a great question that I dont currently have the answer to. I have made the appropriate inquiry and will update this thread. I would love it if we could share the full text publicly. (Core LSF members of course already have access to that text)

Some additional info: In the context of this agreement we (LSF and thus SatNOGS) requested and got an Orbital Data Request approved by space-track.org that allows us to redistribute the TLEs of space-track.org through SatNOGS (which is kind of a big deal!).

An important final note to be made regarding this agreement and our on-going relation with many SSA organizations and entities around the world (USSPACECOM, EUSST, seesat-l, ISON and others), is that at any point we honor our manifesto and do not compromise the nature of our data and projects. Open data through open source software and open source hardware. This is what we stand for and we mold any relation/agreement/contract/activity we do to honor that.

More information about our SSA activities will soon come. In the meantime feel free to reach-out here or in our online channels for more info about those.

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Thanks! For what it’s worth, I submitted an open records request with the Space Command requesting a copy of the agreement.

–Roy
K3RLD

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This is great news, thanks for the update.

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I’ll be waiting for reading this agreement…

SATNOGS is working also thanks to the hundred of stations (“others” in your post) that everyone of us try to improve everyday using our time and money, and I don’t read anything about us …

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I’m confused, you mean you expected to read about the station owners in @pierros post or you mean in other channels of communications?

As far as I know there are many references in several channels about the station owners and their contributions. Personally, when I present SatNOGS in events, in presentations or in booths, I always try to talk about the people behind the stations and also how grateful I’m to be part of such a great community.

@ea5wa reading your post, it sounds like this isn’t enough, except if I get something wrong. So, may I suggest you open a new thread here and let’s discuss ideas on how we can improve and make more visible the contributions of the station owners and their role on all the aspects of the satellite missions.

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Ok, so I have a FOIA request for the agreement (who knows how long that will take, as theoretically their are time requirements related to the requests, but the US government has a reputation for dragging their feet on these), but I also just emailed the public relations email listed on the Space Command website. This is their response:

Mr. Dean,

Thank you for your inquiry.

While we are unable to provide you the exact agreement due to proprietary information and expression consent from our partner, we can provide you the standard template agreement.

The template and the formally signed documents are very similar in context.

If you have further questions regarding the USSPACECOM SSA Sharing Program, please contact Mr. Scott Van Sant, Manager, SSA Data Sharing Program.

Thank you,

So, may I ask that somebody from LSF reach out to US Space Command and grant them permission to release the document? Or conversely, I request that LSF request permission to release it themselves.

–Roy
K3RLD

[edit] I should point out that this agreement very well could put somebody of non-US citizenship into a category similar to “aiding a foreign government” or some other such nonsense. I would urge LSF and/or non-US citizen contributors to be sure that this agreement doesn’t put them in an undesirable position with their own governments.

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Already did (see above).

Now ain’t that a bit of an overreaction without even seeing the agreement? :wink: Also, would you think that we would be doing something to jeopardize our contributors around the world? LSF does have legal counsel and we have put considerable resources into vetting this on our side.

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So your response is “trust us”? I’m sorry, but the signing of an agreement with a governmental military organization without the prior notification of the participants of the project is not acceptable. You’ve (LSF) involuntarily involved hundreds of people, and to me that goes directly against the LSF manifesto (Libre Space Manifesto). Where was the OPEN discussion of this project (signing an agreement with space command)?

For crying out loud, we had to find this out by a news stories on the internet - we weren’t even notified as a group! So much for “open”. I’ve taken my stations off line and they will not come back online until the full text of the agreement is made available.

Sorry, but this is NOT what I signed up for.

–Roy
K3RLD

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No it is not. It is extremely clear from my responses that we are requesting to get this released as a public document.

Maybe you are confusing the SatNOGS and Libre Space Foundation, and the nuances of Core Contributors, participants and the various roles of volunteers in our organization and in the various projects. Luckily we have some documentation to help! Have a look here docs.libre.space/ and let us know if something is not clear enough after you have read that.

Let me make it clearer for you then:
SatNOGS produces open data licensed as CC-BY-SA. These data are accessible through our APIs, websites etc. The SSA Sharing Agreement has not changed anything for that. License stays the same, ownership stays the same, everything is like before. We actually had the template agreement changed to reflect specifically this. In that sense, anyone anyone anyone has access to the SatNOGS data, including USSPACECOM and any other military in the world. This was the case before the signing of this agreement and it still is.

What are we giving the USSPACECOM? Identifications and Localizations.
How are we doing that? Like we have done already: Publicly and openly. Check our twitter feeds and the hundreds of threads in this forum.

You will have to excuse us that SpaceNews beat us to the announcement over the weekend. Maybe the understaffed and heavily volunteer comms team can issue a personal apology for it. </sarcasm> Kidding aside, all core members of LSF were consulted fully the moment this agreement became a possibility. I am sure you can understand that there are many layers of volunteers and intersections of them between many of our projects. When confidentiality is called for (legally) we have to be careful on who, what, when we communicate.

Sorry to see you leave voluntarily, which is the same way you joined.

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My questions is not “What are they going to do with the data”, but “are you going to be rewarded for that?”

But the deal has already been inked! So you ARE telling us to trust you. What ELSE is LSF negotiating behind closed doors? Collaborations with Russia? China? North Korea? As much as I love my country (of which I am a naturalized immigrant), it’s one thing to make information free to all - but it’s another thing to actively collaborate - especially in these strange times where our government has been caught with their hand in the “spying on it’s own citizens” cookie jar time and time again.

No, I am not. Unless I am GREATLY mistaken, LSF’s biggest project is SatNogs, which is HIGHLY dependent on the data gathered by it’s volunteer participants. Without the participants, SatNogs would not exist. Without SatNogs, would US Space Command have any reason to sign this agreement?

Of course. And this was always understood. However, now LSF is actively collaborating with the US Government, and the data contributors (with the exception of the “core contributors”) have no clue as to what LSF has agreed to do. When I mentioned that the LSF Manifesto is based on “free and open” projects, what part of this agreement was ever “free and open”? THAT’S the core problem hear. If LSF was ready to collude with a government behind closed doors once, whats to say that it’s not going to happen again.

This is perhaps the most important (or at least significant) thing that has ever happened to LSF (in my opinion, at least), and a 3rd party beats the “core contributors” to the punch by 2 days? This is not confidence inspiring.

To put all of this into a different perspective, just imagine all of this news coming out with “North Korea” in place of “The United States of America”. All the information is still the same, still openly available, so it shouldn’t make a difference… and yet it DOES.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me…

–Roy
K3RLD

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I want to preface my comments with a little observation - a lot of the challenges that we have had in this project over the years tend to center around a theme of change management and communication across a global scale of different cultures and expectations. I think its a good “problem” to have but let’s give each other a little room for those differences as we’re all here with the same goals in mind.

Let me spin this topic differently - the way things are setup today, this entire project is dependent upon the orbital elements produced by US Space Command. We take for granted how readily and freely available these are, as the distribution (or re-distribution) of this data has always been a gray area in terms of licensing and legalities. Any change to their stance on providing this data limits the project to TLE that we generate ourselves (and have to then maintain on a frequent basis). Does that mean we are beholden or obligated? No, but as @pierros pointed out there is nothing we are offering in return that is not already openly available. With a sharing agreement in place we can rest a little easier knowing that we are granted explicit rights to use the information.

In addition, this formally recognizes capabilities in the project (current and future) that may otherwise be deemed questionable by the US government. As a US citizen there are some SSA activities that I’m not otherwise comfortable participating in as they show capability of identifying objects that our government would not like to have identified (which is not what we are doing here in SatNOGS, but I’m being uber-paranoid there). Having a formal agreement in place gives me comfort that I can participate in such activities under the cover of a mutual sharing agreement.

So I take the opposite approach of your concerns of collaboration - this solidifies our use of critical data and provides legitimacy for what we’re doing. Stretching those concerns to other governments (“Russia? China? North Korea?”) is a bit far as we’re not dependent on any data from any of them today.

For your communications concern, yup, that’s valid, Pierros explained the timeline of events and in hindsight a press release from LSF could have been prepped to coinside. Let’s learn and move on.

For your agreement visibility concern, I’m not sure that you’ll reach a point of satisfaction. Working on such an agreement with such an agency on a public forum is not something I’d expect to be feasible. On the other hand, relying on their data while avoiding a formalized agreement because you can’t do it in the open is too much of a risk for my tastes.

hth,
-C

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No @ea5wa, there is no (financial) reward for that. The data is still distributed freely and openly.

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