SWF Sees Orbital Debris, Killer Asteroids as Key Issues for 2011


There are outstanding issues in the coming year that deserve increased attention in terms of global outer space activities – from tackling the growing problem of orbital space debris, enhancing Earth security via satellite data, protecting our planet from Near Earth Objects, and assuring a sustainable space environment for all nations to improve their well-being.

“Space isn’t the ‘new frontier’ any more. It’s an integral part of our daily existence,” said Cynda Collins Arsenault, President and co-founder of Secure World Foundation (SWF).

“As we move into 2011 new ideas for the practicalities of utilizing space are coming forward. Working collaboratively to know ‘what’s where’, coming to agreements on responsible behavior in space, and a cooperative approach to understanding and responding to threats from asteroids, they are all on the SWF agenda for 2011,” Arsenault said.

There is no doubt that space satellites continue to bring us perspective and solutions for many of Earth’s issues,” Arsenault added. “SWF continues to work on understanding our impact and responsibility to the larger ecosystem in order to reap the benefits it has to offer.”

Stronger push

“This has been an exciting year for advocates of a stronger push toward the goal of space sustainability,” Dr. Ray Williamson, Executive Director of Secure World Foundation.

Williamson said that from the new U.S. Space Policy to the European Union’s Draft International Space Code of Conduct to the new Working Group on Space Sustainability in the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (COPUOS), “the world community has shown a new understanding and a new willingness to tackle this important issue for the long term utility of space activities.”

On the other hand, SWF’s Williamson noted that much remains to be done.

“Space faring countries need to be more aggressive in tackling the ongoing problem of space debris, which threatens to undercut our ability to use space for human benefit. They also need to find improved means to use the information that satellites provide for human benefit,” Williamson said.

Impressive list of activities

Throughout 2010, Secure World Foundation has chalked up an impressive list of activities, including:

— Convening meetings on steps needed for securing a more sustainable environment in outer space, as well as advocating transparency and confidence-building measures.

— Partnering with China’s Beihang University in Beijing and International Space University in Strasbourg, France to work on orbital space debris mitigation issues.

— Encouraging dialogue and conducting analysis of President Barack Obama’s National Space Policy.

— Joining forces with the French Institute of International Relations’ (Ifri) Space Policy Program to foster an open discussion on topics of mutual interest in the arena of outer space security.

— Engaging in active dialogue with participants in the Sixth Space Conference of the Americas in Pachuca, Mexico regarding Latin America space policy development. SWF played a leadership role in helping to shape the Pachuca Declaration and the Plan of Action of the 6th Space Conference of the Americas.

— Outlining with international experts needed steps and concerns in establishing a global detection and warning network to deal with possible Near Earth Object (NEO) threats to Earth. SWF contributed to a special NEO report to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS).

— Issued fact-filled briefs on the U.S. government’s Space Situational Awareness Sharing Program, the Iranian space program, and the U.S. Air Force X-37B’s orbital space plane project.

— Advocated for “Citizen Science” and “Community Remote Sensing” to push for the combining of Earth remote sensing satellite data with social networks to establish a “take charge” public management of local environmental issues.

About Secure World Foundation

Secure World Foundation (SWF) is headquartered in Superior, Colorado, with offices in Washington, D.C. and Brussels, Belgium.

SWF is a private operating foundation dedicated to the secure and sustainable use of space for the benefit of Earth and all its peoples.

SWF engages with academics, policy makers, scientists and advocates in the space and international affairs communities to support steps that strengthen global space sustainability. It promotes the development of cooperative and effective use of space for the protection of Earth’s environment and human security.

The Foundation acts as a research body, convener and facilitator to advocate for key space security and other space related topics and to examine their influence on governance and international development.