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Gen. David Thompson: Military Needs Civilian Agency to Oversee Commercial Space Traffic

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Gen. David Thompson
Gen. David Thompson Vice Chief of Space Operations

Gen. David Thompson, the U.S. Space Force's vice chief of space operations, said the military would like to task an agency to manage traffic caused by commercial space systems, Space News reported Monday.

Thompson told Space News that the Department of Defense (DOD) does not mainly perform regulatory functions, despite the fact that Vandenberg Air Force Base tracks space objects and caution on orbital collisions.

The Department of Commerce (DOC) is expected to take up collision warning responsibilities by 2024 but, according to Thompson, there are other tasks required to prevent space traffic hazards. 

These tasks include safety-centric activity management and the development of satellite maneuverability guidelines. The vice chief said the military will most likely consider increasing operational risks in certain orbits, and thus require corresponding oversight.