#Global steps to improve the safety and sustainability of outdoor spaces space management
Confidence that space is “great” isn’t an option. Over 3,000 satellites and hundreds of thousands of junk are operating in Earth’s orbit. In October 2020, a firm in low-orbit tracking objects alerted an older satellite and the upper stage of a rocket, both unworkable, with an over 10% possibility of collision. The May inspection showed that the International Space Station’s robotic arm had hit Canadarm2 a piece of debris.
In the meantime, space became central to the very survival of our earth, from planetary defense to climate change fighting. This criticality of external space for human beings all across the world is essential to the sustainability of the orbit. Space actors must proactively implement their measures if activities such as megaconstellations proliferate and if additional operators and states are to access space, to keep the space environment that humanity may use for many years to come. Space Traffic Management (STM) is vital to achieving an ordered environment.
STM’s strategy, coordination, and on-orbit orbit synchronization of actions aimed at improving the safety, stabilization, and sustainable operations in the space environment as outlined in the United States Space Policy Directive 3. Stronger global STM demands, among other variables, capacity growth, better space awareness (SSA), and collaboration and transparency at the national and international level.
Given the global aspect of space, cooperation and communication are essential when we try to lay down norms on the way to orbit. Capacity-building can involve countries that have greater expertise or capacities to help others with less expertise to develop information-sharing protocols and provide awareness through seminars, contests, and conferences. Young professionals’ associations can play a significant role in promoting an international understanding of space traffic management. For example, contact points from organizations like the Advisory Council on Space Generation and other organizations can conduct activities where people from all generations and locales have a shared understanding.
Actions need also to take place at the national level in order for international collaboration to occur. Nations interested in space should begin formulating policies and legal structures. For the sake of creating norms and guidelines, countries should appoint contact points that can liaise with other nations and act as their voice in NGOs.
Spatial awareness of situations is informed by radar and telescopic data, which characterizes space objects and their operating environment. Due to this feature, SSA is a key aspect of a space traffic system. There are fears, nonetheless, that existing SSA capabilities worldwide are not sufficient to maintain the increase of space objects and waste up to date and hence prevent collisions. Taking these considerations into account, certain global SSA actions appear below.
Better trackability: Enhanced software and data capabilities might provide important insight into a crowded area in order to avoid a collision. Enhanced SSA data, currently managed mostly by the US Defense Department, can be obtained through the data gathering from commercial and civil entities and from different countries, with particular attention paid to data from operators directly, usually, high-quality data that includes maneuver plans. To ensure that the data gathered to comply with quality standards and is free of cybersecurity risks, it should be curated and evaluated. It would also be beneficial to set up more radars.
Openness: worldwide transparency should be encouraged as we work towards building databases and improving SSA data. Identification of the object and operator is a measure to facilitate communication when more operators have access to space. Transparency will permit measures such as the effective communication of alerts to prevent collisions. At the national and international levels, operators should be encouraged to communicate information with other operators as well as institutions that manage SSA databases and offer information on whether their spacecraft are maneuverable or on events that may occur on their spacecraft.
Control of debris: Controlling future debris growth is critical since increasing the number of unmanageable or unknown things will make an STM system overwhelming. Furthermore, the chance of collision in orbit is high for unmaneuverable objects and trash. One strategy to reduce the growth of waste is to promote mitigation actions like the design of satellites that minimize the emission of trash and the disposal of spacecraft that are no longer usable. Compliance and, when necessary, updating of international norms such as the IADC Space Debris Directive on mitigation to keep up with new activities and actors is essential.
The international space community should also intensify discussions on the elimination of active debris since there are already enough items present in Earth orbit to be in danger of collision.
Nations should work together to produce standards that build on input from industry, such as best practices, that should ultimately be incorporated into legislation and legislation. In particular, when a collision alert is in place, what if a satellite cannot handle, the future of spacecraft design, to develop sustainability and requirements for transparency, amongst other things, are the standards for maneuvering satellites. We should also consider responsibility for failure to comply with space sustainability rules and regulations when establishing measures and developing standards both at the national and international levels. Economical incentives can be created, for example, when operators that are designated as ‘good actors’ pay less for insurance or when the ‘bad actors.’
As we create space traffic management strategies, a multidisciplinary approach is vital to consider. In order to build mechanisms for better spatial awareness, satellite features that assist tracking, and other tools, academics and scientific institutions should, for example, be represented in sustainable dialogues, apart from bringing together officials and government agents.
Outdoor space sustainability is endangered and we need to act now. In addition to a solid SSA, effective communication between the nations of the globe that want to take advantage, as well as increasing capacity in relation to STM, will assist us to advance into the road rules required by future generations for a spacious environment.