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Thursday, December 2, 2021

The UN can finally set new rules for space

Samson said that there is much more international consensus regarding the development of non-binding regulations involving space behavior rather than stricter policies for specific technologies. She said she was “cautiously excited” that the United Nations finally got rid of the deadlock in space diplomacy.

Dozens of countries A response to the UN proposal has been published, mainly in support of it. Non-governmental organizations, including Samson’s Safe World Foundation, arms control organizations, and even the International Committee of the Red Cross, have done the same. The latter pointed out that “the use of weapons in outer space…may have a significant impact on civilians on Earth.” For example, if satellites that people rely on for weather information, communications, or navigation fail in certain international disputes, it may have far-reaching consequences. Impact.

Samson said this is a special problem with “dual-use” technology, referring to spacecraft that can be used for military and civilian purposes. For example, although some military communications involve dedicated military satellites, 80% of the communications use various commercial satellites, but these satellites can still be considered military targets. (The aerospace industry was not invited to comment directly, because individual companies are regulated by their national rather than international policies. Representatives of the US aerospace industry often participate in US delegations.)

The danger of space debris that may be generated by orbital collisions or attacks continues to attract attention, especially considering the amount of debris generated by anti-satellite missile tests, such as those of China in 2007 and India in 2019. Even small untraceable floating objects in space can be harmful because they are moving at high speeds. Bruce McClintock, director of the RAND Corporation Space Enterprise Program at the Federal Funding and Military Research Center in Santa Monica, California, points out that on Earth, tornadoes can stuff straw fragments into telephone poles. “Now imagine that you are at orbital speed and you have a piece of paint moving at a speed of thousands of miles per hour. These things can cause severe damage to the satellite,” he said.

This is one of the main reasons why planetary scientist and co-founder of the Vancouver Institute for Outer Space Research in British Columbia, Aaron Boli, called for a ban on testing weapons that can destroy satellites. “The ban on anti-satellite tests that generate debris is an area where I think a broad consensus can be reached,” he said.His research published an article Open the envelope On September 2, signatories from multiple countries provided reasons for such a ban. McClintock believes that experiments that ban the production of “long-lived debris”-shrapnel staying in orbit for many years instead of falling and burning in the lower atmosphere-may have a more realistic chance of being adopted, despite his research in outer space. Letter.

In order to avoid collisions or attacks between satellites, which may also generate debris, experts often quote Marine accident The United States and the former Soviet Union signed an agreement in 1972. The agreement requires more communication between the two countries and requires ships (including those engaged in surveillance) to keep a distance from each other to avoid collisions. “It did not change the size and structure of the naval power, but introduced rules for notification of exercises,” said Jessica West, a senior researcher at Project Plowshares, a research institute in Waterloo, Ontario. It will be helpful to warn the satellite owner in advance and ask for permission to approach, “so they don’t panic or worry, they won’t respond in an escalated way to what you’re doing, because your purpose is just to do an exercise. ,”she says.

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