The United Nations Can Finally Develop New Rules for Space


There is more international consensus for creating non -binding rules involving space behavior than more stringent policies focusing on specific technologies, according to Samson. He says he is “cautiously excited” that the UN has finally escaped its failure in space diplomacy.

Many countries has already published responses to the UN proposal, mostly in support of it. Non-governmental groups, including Samson’s Secure World Foundation, arms control groups, and even the International Committee of the Red Cross, have also done so. It was later pointed out that “the use of space weapons … could have a profound effect on civilians on Earth.” If, say, a satellite that people rely on for weather information, communication, or navigation is disrupted during some international dispute, it could have enormous consequences.

That’s a particular problem with “dual-use” technologies, according to Samson, which refers to spacecraft that can be used for military and civilian purposes. For example, while some military communications involve dedicated military satellites, 80 percent of communications use various commercial satellites, which can be considered military targets. (The space industry is not invited to comment directly, as individual companies are regulated by their national, non-international, policies. Representatives from the American space industry typically join the U.S. delegation. .)

The dangers of space debris, which could be created by an orbital collision or attack, continue to attract attention, especially considering the number of debris made in anti-satellite missile tests, such as those by China in 2007 and India in 2019. Even small pieces of untraceable space flotsam can be harmful, as they move at high speeds. Bruce McClintock, head of the Space Enterprise Initiative at Rand Corporation, a federally financed and military-focused research center based in Santa Monica, California, says that, on Earth, tornado winds can block pieces of straw to telephone poles. “Now imagine you’re at orbital speed, and you have something like the size of a paint chip moving thousands of miles per hour. Those are the things that can cause severe damage to satellites, ”he said.

That’s the big reason why Aaron Boley, a planetary scientist and cofounder at the Outer Space Institute in Vancouver, British Columbia, has called for a ban on tests on weapons that can destroy satellites. “The ban on anti-satellite tests that produce garbage is an area where I think there’s a lot of agreement,” he said. His institute published a open letter on Sept. 2 making the case for such a ban, with signatories from several countries. Prohibiting attempts to create “long -lived debris” – shrapnel that stays in orbit for years instead of falling and burning in the lower atmosphere – may have a more realistic chance of adoption, McClintock said. argued, even if he had sympathy for the argument in the letter to the Outer Space Institute.

To avoid collisions or attacks between satellites, which can also cause wrecks, experts often refer to Sea events agreement between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, signed in 1972. The agreement mandates more communication between the two countries and requires ships, including those under surveillance, to remain peaceful with each other to avoid collisions. “It doesn’t change the size and structure of naval forces, but brings in rules for notifications for exercises,” said Jessica West, a senior researcher at project Plowshares-based research institute in Waterloo, Ontario. Provide satellite owners primary warning and request for permission to approach too far, “so they don’t get scared, and they don’t get worried, and they don’t respond to what you do in an escalatory way because your intention is to do an exercise,” he said.



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