Libre Space Signs Agreement with US Space Command

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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Just a follow up on this. Is the agreement publicly available?

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Reason to turn off the stations in non-NATO countries.

We are still waiting for a coordination from both sides to release this publicly.

I am going to assume that this is a unfortunate attempt for a joke :wink: Or maybe our brewing collaboration with ISON is a reason to turn off stations in NATO countries too? :man_facepalming:

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If a network project is recognized as a foreign agent, i.e. Cooperating with the military and special services of the United States, its activities will be discontinued in the country. Example - Chinese authorities initiated crackdown on foreign ADS-B receivers

At that moment, when the network is recognized as the espionage tool, its work will be prohibited.

All observation results submitted by stations to SatNOGS are licensed, by the station owner, under CreativeCommons Attribution-Share Alike (CC BY-SA). This happens as users agree to submit to network, see SatNOGS Network - About . As such it is public data and available to everyone to download and use (under this license). The agreement doesn’t change this (of course!).

Please check what data SatNOGS observations include. The agreement doesn’t change this either.

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Said that, I do agree that, based on our aspiration to be built on Open Governance as codified in the Libre Space Manifesto, the content of the agreement really should become public in the foreseeable future and LSF should publicly speak about this, as we do with any other projects.

In my view this agreement is something we should celebrate! It finally allows SatNOGS to officially redistribute the TLEs produced by USSPACECOM and fetched directly via space-track.org (“US->LSF->users”).

@pierros: Do you have any timeline when LSF will be able to release it or a statement about its content publicly? If not (or if the date is in the far future), can LSF speak about the general content? After all it is already signed for some months.

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No stations - no observations. At the moment, most stations are useless - most stations are located in the US and EU. And their observations duplicate each other.

Indeed, SatNOGS is lacking stations from some huge parts of the world, china & russia are two of them. But as far is I know this was also the case before the agreement. I’d love to discuss any problems or concerns for/by potential station owners in general in this new thread. Maybe you would like to recommend something for LSF to do to overcome issues.

It was already explained here why this agreement is a benefit for all SatNOGS users, the network was in part built utilizing the TLE data from US Space Command distributed via CelesTrak. Now this usage is officially recognized and we do not have to fear this still important source for TLEs to become unavailable anymore).

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This is not true at all. On large deployments we need areas of the world with dense station coverage to be able to do parallel tracking of multiple objects from the same launch. For what is worth: the density in EU and US is not even enough for many of the launches we track! :slight_smile:

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Hi, is there any update?

I just pinged them again.

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I am in the happy position to report that we can share the full text of the agreement publicly. Here it is:

USSPACECOM - Libre Space Foundation SSA-Sharing-Agreement - FINAL Signed 29 Jun 2021.pdf (357.8 KB)

Make special note of the last sentence in section 7.2.1 : “Derivative SSA data produced by Libre Space Foundation after processing USSPACECOM information are not subject to any limitations”. Since we release all our produced data with open licenses, this sentence is a huge win for the open data for space and a significant precedent for openness of orbital data. :partying_face:

Keep in mind that we also have an ODR in place for sharing the space-track.org catalog through SatNOGS.

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