EU Space Conduct Code Faces Push Back From Commercial Sector

The commercial spaceflight industry is seeking input into a European Union code of conduct for space that the Obama Administration is considering adopting due to concerns that it could negatively impact the emerging sector.

In a presentation to the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) this week, Debra Facktor Lepore of the committee’s Space Transportation Operations Working Group said that a “broader global dialogue” involving government and industry is required before the United States and other nations adopt the EU’s Code of Conduct for Space Activities.

“It is important for FAA/AST to voice effects on industry from the perspective of regulations, best practices, standards, orbital debris, proximity operations and incident investigation. COMSTAC should be the mechanism to solicit this input,” she wrote in her PowerPoint presentation.

Facktor Lepore said that a number of elements in the code affect commercial operators, including:

  • Safety and integrity standards
  • Proximity and on-orbit operations
  • Mechanism to investigate proven incidents (orbital debris)

The EU adopted the code last year. Ministers directed Catherine Margaret Ashton, the union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to promote the policy to other nations as the foundation of a global standard for space operations. The Obama Administration is leaning toward adopting the code with minor changes, a position that has angered conservatives who fear it would unduly restrict U.S. defense activities in space.