The orbital space environment is home to natural and artificial satellites, debris, and space weather phenomena. As the population of orbital objects grows so do the potential hazards to astronauts, space infrastructure and spaceflight capability. Orbital debris, in particular, is a universal concern. This and other hazards can be minimized by improving global space situational awareness (SSA). By sharing more data and increasing observational coverage of the space environment we stand to achieve that goal, thereby making spaceflight safer and expanding our knowledge of near-Earth space. To facilitate data-sharing interoperability among distinct orbital debris and space object catalogs, and SSA information systems, I proposed ontology in (Rovetto, 2015) and (Rovetto and Kelso, 2016). I continue this effort toward formal representations and models of the overall domain that may serve to improve peaceful SSA and increase our scientific knowledge.
This paper explains the project concept introduced in those publications, summarizing efforts to date as well as the research field of ontology development and engineering. I describe concepts for an ontological framework for the orbital space environment, near-Earth space environment and SSA domain. An ontological framework is conceived as a part of a potential international information system. The purpose of such a system is to consolidate, analyze and reason over various sources and types of orbital and SSA data toward the mutually beneficial goals of safer space navigation and scientific research. Recent internationals findings on the limitations of orbital data, in addition to existing publications on collaborative SSA, demonstrate both the overlap with this project and the need for data-sharing and integration.