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Stability And Security In Space

Astronaut Jeffrey Williams during a six-hour space walk mission outside the International Space Station.

"All nations have the right to explore and use space for peaceful purposes."

"A long-standing principle of U.S. national space policy," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Frank Rose, "is that all nations have the right to explore and use space for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity, in accordance with international law."

Speaking at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research space security conference, Deputy Assistant Secretary Rose said that pursuant to President Barack Obama's National Space Policy, released last summer, the U.S. Government is implementing measures to strengthen security and stability in space. These measures are intended to promote responsible, peaceful, and safe behavior in space by all nations.

In this context, the National Space Policy directs that the United States will pursue bilateral and multilateral transparency and confidence building measures. For that reason, the United States is consulting with the European Union on its proposal to develop an international Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

Another measure that the United States is pursuing is sharing space situational awareness, or SSA, information with our allies, partners, and the commercial space sector. Today, over sixty nations operate in space, said Deputy Assistant Secretary Rose. "We are tracking over 22 thousand objects. There are 1,100 active space systems, and hundreds of thousands of smaller objects we can’t see."

In addition to detecting orbital debris, SSA also is critical for detecting, identifying, and attributing actions in space that affect everyone’s security and the long term sustainment of space activities. Information exchanges between satellite owners and operators can help prevent collisions in space. Potential collisions can adversely affect access to key space systems, products, and services that are essential to every facet of our lives.

"Strengthening security and stability in space is in everyone’s interest," said Deputy Assistant Secretary Rose. "Cooperation with established and emerging members of the space-faring community and with the private sector will help to preserve the space environment for the benefit of all nations and future generations."