Securing The Skies

Posted: November 15, 2010 in Uncategorized
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What does it take to be a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists?

Do you have to join the union?  Be a scientist?  Can you get by with just being concerned?

Regardless, the UCS has issued their 2010 version of Securing the Skies.  Of course space and skies are not synonymous, but we can grand a bunch of scientists a literary waiver…they are scientists…right?

From the Executive Summary:

Recent trends and events—including demonstrations of anti-satellite capability, a collision between satellites, and a dramatic increase in dangerous space debris—make clear that the space environment needs more protection, that satellites face growing risks, and that space activities may be a potential source of mistrust and tension.

As with a lot of things, there are elements of truth present and elements of truth missing.  The missing parts include the fact the Chinese have created most of this recent debris with their January 2007 ASAT demonstration and was clearly a violation of the Outer Space Treaty.  The other large increase in space debris was from the Iridium/Cosmos mishap, one being a live satellite (Iridium) and the other being abandoned in place (Cosmos).  While this would seem to violate the Liability Convention, Iridium does not seem willing to press-to-test the liability aspect of this event and so it just sort of…lingers there.

As far as the space environment needing more protection, one question would be from what? Another would be how will the space environment be protected? I’m sure that and more are explained in the full report, which in summary, will likely say “By U.S. self-limiting space behaviors and arms control-like agreements.”

Another snippet:

Policy makers in the United States and around the world are recognizing that existing international legal agreements and norms are not adequate to ensure the security and sustainability of space. They also realize the pressing need for international discussions to address issues such as the potential military uses of space and the ways in which they could exacerbate geopolitical tensions and cause conflicts.

The real deal is the flag follows trade.  When the space economy gets big enough (whether space tourism, space solar power, space-based resource harvesting, or something else) more attention will be paid to the space environment.  The alternative real deal is space will warrant more attention when people feel more threatened by the missile systems possessed by the rogues: North Korea, Iran, or their proxies.

A more thorough review will be forthcoming (if I think it’s warranted).



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