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Sustainability And Security Of The Space Environment


A sunrise in space.

We are more knowledgeable, more connected, safer, and more secure, due to our uses of outer space.

We are more knowledgeable, more connected, safer, and more secure, due to our uses of outer space. But the long-term sustainability and usability of the space environment is at risk from space-debris hazards and from irresponsible acts in space that can have damaging consequences for all of us.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Frank Rose addressed the issues of ensuring the long-term sustainability, stability, safety, and security of the space environment recently at the United Nations affiliated Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Space, a domain that no nation owns but on which all rely, is becoming increasingly congested from orbital debris, and contested from man-made threats that may disrupt the space environment, upon which we all depend,” Mr. Rose said.

We must address these challenges through voluntary, pragmatic, and time-urgent transparency and confidence building measures to encourage responsible behavior in, and the peaceful use of, space. Such measures exist, have been agreed to by international consensus, can be implemented quickly, respond to the risk and danger of space debris, and address growing threats to the space environment.

A prime example of a transparency and confidence building measure is the European Union’s initiative to develop an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities, which can serve as the best near-term solution to reduce the risks of collisions in space between satellites and, for example, orbital debris.

“By working together on pragmatic steps…the international community can advance the long-term sustainability and security of the outer space environment for all nations and future generations.”

“We have already witnessed progress on many fronts in pursuit of a sustainable, stable, safe, and secure space environment,” Mr. Rose said in conclusion. “This progress did not happen by accident. It required the sustained commitment and hard work of many individuals and governments from around the world. Yet much more progress must be made to ensure our ever greater goals in space are not hindered by miscalculation, accidents, or shortsighted actions.”
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