WASHINGTON (Sens. Udall & Kaine PR) —Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a resolution to maintain U.S. leadership in protecting satellites and spacecraft in Earth’s orbit from space debris and ensuring that all nations cooperate to promote the peaceful use of space for research and commercial purposes. The resolution prioritizes the implementation of the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space guidelines negotiated between the U.S. delegation to the United Nations and 92 countries.
“Peaceful and safe innovation in space is a foundation of today’s interconnected world—and necessary for our future security and prosperity,” Udall said. “From satellites that support our service members and send information to our smartphones at the speed of light, to scientific research that leads to breakthroughs back on earth, as well as a nascent tourist economy, outer space is both a strategic priority and an economic engine for communities around the world. Cooperative use of space is especially important in my home state of New Mexico – where our space economy is thriving. I introduced this resolution with Senator Kaine to maintain U.S. leadership in international space cooperation, prevent collisions which could make space too dangerous to use, and reinforce the United States’ position as a leader of a coalition of nations pushing the bounds of human discovery.”
“America’s leadership in space technology and safety is important to Virginia’s economy and our national security,” Kaine said. “Our nation’s efforts to lay the foundations for the peaceful use of space should be commended and highlighted as an example of what can be accomplished through constructive, apolitical, and professional diplomacy.”
The Resolution Supporting International Cooperation and Continued United States Leadership in Outer Space would:
Support technology to prevent accidents-The growing number of satellites and space debris in Earth’s orbit has increased the risk of collisions or accidents with far-reaching geopolitical implications. The resolution directs the Senate to support tracking technology and increase international communication to prevent satellite or debris collisions.
Prioritize U.S. leadership in global space relations-The United States played a key role in negotiating 21 UN guidelines for space sustainability. This resolution supports the U.S. Department of State’s efforts to implement the guidelines, facilitate access to space by streamlining space-related regulations, and notify Congress if further compliance with international standards requires additional legislation.
“Virgin Orbit commends Senator Udall for his leadership and advocacy in efforts to keep outer space sustainable. Space activities are critical to our understanding of our planet and the science of climate change, our economic and technological leadership, and our national security. Like Sen. Udall, we believe that good stewardship of the space environment is essential so that present and future generations may continue to enjoy the benefits that spaceflight provides,” said Dan Hart, President and CEO of Virgin Orbit.
“Virgin Orbit is proud to be doing its part to support these efforts – we’re working with the Department of State to assist with United Nations space sustainability activities; we’re members of the Space Safety Coalition, which has offered guidelines for sustainability practices; and we’re contributing members of the MIT/World Economic Forum ‘Space Sustainability Rating Workshop.’ Likewise, we’re glad to endorse Sen. Udall’s resolution on space sustainability.”
“Thank you Senators Udall and Kaine for your leadership around space exploration and achieving advances in space technology. In particular, we commend introduction and urge passage of this important resolution, which supports the efforts of the international community and the United States to implement the critical guidelines for space sustainability agreed on by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. This Committee worked to achieve consensus with 92 other countries and recognized that the use of space by governments and private entities requires a system for deconfliction of space traffic and prevention of collisions to ensure the use of space for current and future users. The resolution is an important step in ensuring that the U.S. continues to be a leader in space and reflects the multitude of ways that the U.N. and U.S. – on earth and above it – partner to achieve U.S. national interests,” said Peter Yeo, President of the Better World Campaign.
“The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)—the world’s largest aerospace technical society—endorses Senators Tom Udall and Tim Kaine’s resolution in support of the United Nations’ 21 guidelines for the sustainable use of space,” said Dan Dumbacher, AIAA Executive Director. “It is imperative for the United States to continue to work with the global space community to ensure that all actors abide by these recommended behaviors and best practices in space. The United States must remain a leader in this effort, and the adoption of this resolution will send a strong, positive message about our commitment to our international counterparts.”
“Participants of the Space Safety Coalition have agreed to endorse, promote and strive to implement the guidelines of the United Nations Committee for the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), to include the recently-approved twenty-one consensus UN Long-Term Sustainability (LTS) guidelines. The proposed resolution is aligned with the SSC’s position. As highlighted in a recent AIAA study, these comprehensive LTS guidelines are a critical addition to the global space governance framework,” said Dan Oltrogge, Space Safety Coalition Administrator.
“The 21 long-term sustainability guidelines will help contribute to the safety of spaceflight operations, encourage international cooperation, improve awareness of activities, and strengthen the space industry. While there is more to do in implementing the guidelines, we applaud a Senate resolution that shows commitment towards the long-term sustainability of space,” said Ron Lopez, President of Astroscale U.S. Inc.
“The Satellite Industry Association supports international cooperation and continued United States leadership to maintain access to space and achieve advances in space technology,” said SIA President Tom Stroup. “SIA supports the implementation of the U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Space Activities as a mechanism to promote international space sustainability and assist in protecting the space domain for further commercialization, including enhancing safe flight operations for satellites, human spaceflight and other missions.”
“The United Nations long-term sustainability guidelines represent a critical step towards protecting and preserving the space environment. The success of these Guidelines demonstrates that global action is possible and kudos to the U.S. Department of State and their colleagues for their work on this challenging yet critical issue,” said Vice President of Maxar Technologies Mike Gold.
“As the world’s leading supplier of satellite power solutions, SolAero Technologies is experiencing firsthand the explosive growth of the commercial space sector. With 10,000’s of new satellites set to provide a diversity of new applications, capabilities and services, society’s reliance on space assets is set to grow many-fold over the next decade,” said Brad Clevenger, President and CEO of SolAero Technologies. Improvements in space situational awareness and traffic management are imperative if we are to create a safe operating environment for both $100’s billions of space commerce and national security space assets and capabilities. With both allies and adversaries alike rapidly expanding their commercial, defensive and offensive space capabilities, this is necessarily an international effort requiring improved communication and coordination, as well as the involvement of international bodies. On behalf of SolAero and the satellite industry writ large, I want to thank U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) for this resolution to reinforce the U.S.’ central leadership role in the peaceful use of space.”
Full text of the resolution can be found here.