Space Enabled Affiliates Kevin O'Connell and Moriba Jah Testify at Congressional Hearing


House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

May 12, 2022
10:00am ET

Follow this link to view the Session recording.

Space Enabled Affiliates Kevin O'Connell and Moriba Jah will both testify at the May 12 Congressional hearing about "Space Situational Awareness: Guiding the Transition to a Civil Capability." Details from the Hearing Charter are listed below:


The purpose of the hearing is to consider testimony regarding planning for the transition of certain space situational awareness services and information to a civil capability, among other issues. 


  • Dr. Matthew Hejduk, Senior Project Leader, The Aerospace Corporation 
  • Dr. Moriba Jah, Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Department, Mrs. Pearlie Dashiell Henderson Centennial Fellowship in Engineering, Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin 
  • Mr. Andrew D’Uva, Senior Policy Advisor, Space Data Association 
  • Mr. Kevin M. O’Connell, Founder, Space Economy Rising, LLC 
  • Dr. Mariel Borowitz, Associate Professor, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, Georgia Institute of Technology 


Over the past decade, the space industry has grown and changed significantly, particularly with the rapid increase of commercial and private activity in low-Earth orbit (LEO). With the advent of megaconstellations, often involving thousands of satellites, and new global players launching CubeSats and small satellites into Earth’s orbit, operating in the space environment is becoming more complex. The locations and predicted positions of active satellites, defunct satellites, and space debris must be considered in order to avoid collisions and maintain safe operations. Given this evolving landscape, space situational awareness (SSA) is becoming an essential means to ensuring the safety and sustainability of the space environment. 


  • What should be the goals and objectives for an evolvable civil space situational awareness capability? 
  • What is needed to ensure an effective transition of certain space situational awareness services and information from the Department of Defense to a civil government entity or entities? 
  • What are the potential challenges in transitioning space situational awareness services and information to a civil capability, and how should those challenges be addressed? 
  • To what extent is research and development important to the future of a civil space situational capability and an eventual space traffic coordination framework? 


Kevin O'Connell

Kevin O'Connell is the former Director of the Office of Space Commerce in the U.S. Department of Commerce.  He brings over 35 years of experience in the U.S. government, in research organizations, and as an entrepreneur and business leader to this position. Mr. O’Connell has researched and written extensively on the policy, security, and global market issues related to commercialization of remote sensing. Aside from numerous articles and op-eds, he was co-author of Commercial Observation Satellites: at the Leading Edge of Global Transparency (2000). He served as the Executive Secretary and Staff Director of the NIMA Commission (1999-2000). He was a member, and later Chair, of NOAA’s federal advisory committee on remote sensing from 2002-2016. Previously, Mr. O’Connell served as the CEO of Innovative Analytics and Training, a Washington, D.C. professional services firm focused on analysis and decision support for U.S. government and commercial clients. Among other issues, the firm focused on market trends and anticipatory/futures analysis for high-technology industries such as cyber, cloud computing, and geospatial technologies. During this time, he also served as a senior consultant to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and as an independent advisor to the Director, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Mr. O’Connell’s background also includes extensive experience in national security and intelligence matters, including assignments in the Department of Defense, Department of State, National Security Council, and the Office of the Vice President. He spent a decade conducting and managing research in these areas at the RAND Corporation, including as the first director of RAND’s Intelligence Policy Center. Finally, Mr. O’Connell has taught a long-running course on comparative intelligence in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Security Studies Program.


Moriba Jah

Dr. Moriba Jah joined the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at UT Austin in 2017. His research interests are in non-gravitational astrodynamics and advanced/non-linear multi-sensor/object tracking, prediction, and information fusion. His expertise is in space object detection, tracking, identification, and characterization, as well as spacecraft navigation.

He received his BS in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona, and his MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder specializing in astrodynamics and statistical orbit determination.

Prior to being at UT Austin, Dr. Jah was the Director of the University of Arizona’s Space Object Behavioral Sciences with applications to Space Domain Awareness, Space Protection, Space Traffic Monitoring, and Space Debris research to name a few. Preceding that, Dr. Jah was the lead for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Advanced Sciences and Technology Research Institute for Astronautics (ASTRIA) and a Principal Investigator for Detect/Track/Id/Characterize Program at AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate.

Before joining AFRL in 2007, he was a spacecraft navigator for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, serving on Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express (joint mission with ESA), Mars Exploration Rovers, Hayabusa (joint mission with JAXA), and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Prof Jah is a Fellow of multiple organizations: TED, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), American Astronautical Society (AAS), International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS), Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). He has served on the US delegation to the United Nations Committee On Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS), is an elected Academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and has testified to congress on his work as related to Space Situational Awareness and Space Traffic Management. He’s an Associate Editor of the IAA and Elsevier Acta Astronautica journal, and serves on multiple committees: IAA Space Traffic Management, IAA Space Debris, AIAA Astrodynamics, IAF Astrodynamics, and IAF Space Security.

Dr. Jah is a world-recognized subject matter expert in astrodynamics-based Space Domain Awareness sciences and technologies with 75+ publications in peer-reviewed journals, conferences, and symposia. He’s been an invited lecturer and keynote speaker at 20+ national and international space events, workshops and fora.

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