Report Calls for Immediate Actions to Address Impact of Satellite Constellations on Astronomy, Environment

A wide-field image (2.2 degrees across) from the Dark Energy Camera on the Víctor M. Blanco 4-m telescope at the Cerro Tololo InterAmerican Observatory, taken on 18 November 2019. Several Starlink satellites crossed the field of view. (Credit: CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/DECam DELVE Survey)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new report recommends “immediate, well-funded, comprehensive, and collaborative work” to implement a series of measures to mitigate the negative impacts that large satellite constellations on ground-based astronomy.

The report, whose executive summary was published last week, includes 10 recommendations for observatories and constellation operators that include the development of software to identify and mask satellite trails and designs changes to lessen the reflectivity of satellites. (The full list of recommendations are below.)

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China, Russia Hold International Lunar Research Station Seminar

China/Russia International Lunar Research Station seminar. (Credit: CNSA)

ZHUHAI, China (CNSA PR) — On September 27, 2021, a closed-door seminar on the International Lunar Research Station jointly sponsored by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and Roscosmos was held in Zhuhai. Experts from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia, Thailand, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, ESA, and the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization conducted special seminars on the declaration of the International Lunar Research Station.

In March 2021, China and Russia signed the “Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperative Construction of International Lunar Research Stations.” At present, the declaration of the International Lunar Research Station jointly drafted by China and Russia clarifies the general principles, joining methods and activity guidelines for the construction of the International Lunar Research Station. 

The international consultation on the declaration of the International Lunar Research Station is the common expectation of the international community, and it is also an important part of the steady promotion of the cooperation process of the International Lunar Research Station between China and Russia.

The Declaration of the International Lunar Research Station will serve as an important document for follow-up cooperation. It is planned to be introduced to the international community at the 72nd International Astronautical Conference in Dubai, UAE in October 2021, and to further listen to the opinions and suggestions of the international community.

Growing Number of Satellites Contribute Significant Light Pollution to Night Skies

Trails caused by the fifth deployment of satellites making up the Starlink constellation. (Credit: Andreas Möller)

LONDON (Royal Astronomical Society PR) — Scientists reported new research results today suggesting that artificial objects in orbit around the Earth are brightening night skies on our planet significantly more than previously understood.

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UK Space Sector Receives £1 Million Government Boost to Support International Innovation

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Five new projects have been awarded a share of over £1 million [$1.38 million] of government funding to work with international partners on innovative space technology.

Projects to remotely probe ice on Mars to help explorers find life below the surface, a system to warn of impacts of flood risks to infrastructure based on research in India and a scheme to design UK imaging technology for a space telescope are among the new international initiatives to receive backing from the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP).

The funding will see UK companies and organisations working with partners such as NASA, and space agencies from Canada, Japan and Italy. NSIP is the first fund dedicated to supporting the UK space sector’s innovation through collaborations with international partners designed to contribute to UK science, security and prosperity.

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Samantha Bee Looks at Space Junk & the Kessler Syndrome

Video Caption: While we’ve been so focused on separating our cardboard and plastic down on Earth, waste, abandoned satellites, and other man made debris have been accumulating in space. If we want to continue our progress in space and maintain our technology, it’s time for a major cleanup! Watch Full Frontal with Samantha Bee all new Wednesdays at 10:30/ 9:30c on TBS!

An Enormous Increase in Launches Threatens More Orbital Debris

Credit: ESA/UNOOSA

PARIS (ESA PR) — Since the beginning of the space age, with the launch of Sputnik in 1957, we have launched thousands of rockets carrying more than ten thousand satellites into space.

The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in these numbers, and over the last few decades there has been a change in the type of mission flown, with private companies (yellow) launching smaller satellites than those launched by non-commercial agencies (blue).

This graph, created in a joint project between ESA and the UN, also shows the number of unregistered objects (red) has increased in recent years. It should be noted that these are objects not yet registered with the UN, and registration rates are expected to increase.

In episode 4 of the ESA-UNOOSA space debris series, Ian Freeman and Francesca Letizia discuss what these changes mean for the future of spaceflight and the creation of space debris.

NASA, UN Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Peaceful Uses of Space

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) pledging cooperation in areas of science and technology to support the peaceful use of outer space.

The MOU, signed Thursday, Dec. 17, brings together NASA’s wealth of publicly available Earth observation data and dynamic exploration opportunities with UNOOSA’s unique position as the only U.N. entity dedicated to outer space affairs.

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China Using Space to Further Geopolitical Goals

Completing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine how China is using its space program to achieve the nation’s geopolitical and economic goals. [Full Report]

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China is using its growing space program to achieve a range of geopolitical and economic goals, including attracting partners for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), improving economic and political ties with other countries, and deepening others’ reliance on its space systems and data services.

“Beijing views its space program as key to elevating its leadership profile in international space cooperation, including through BRI, and establishing a dominant position in the commercial space industry,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress.

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UNOOSA, Luxembourg Launch New “Space Law for New Space Actors” Project

LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg Space Agency PR) — Today, at the margins of the New Space Europe Conference, Ms. Paulette Lenert, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs and Ms. Simonetta di Pippo, Director of United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) signed a funding agreement to support UNOOSA’s new “Space Law for New Space Actors” project.

The “Space Law for New Space Actors” project will offer UN Member States tailored capacity building to facilitate their drafting of national space legislation and/or national space policies in line with international space law, promoting the long-term sustainability of outer space activities. Such capacity building will support in particular new and emerging space-faring nations to conduct space activities in a responsible and sustainable manner.

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Space Agencies Sign Agreements to Advance Artemis Lunar Program, Commercial Space Activities

Updated Nov. 4, 2019 at 12:45 PST to include agreement between U.S. Department of Commerce and CNES.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s space agencies were busy signing agreements last month to advance lunar exploration and commercial space activities during the International Astronautical Conference in Washington, DC.

NASA signed agreements with the European Space Agency (ESA) and three national agencies in Europe focused on advancing America’s Artemis program, which aims to land astronauts on the moon in 2024.

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UNOOSA, Airbus Announce Opportunity for Utilizing Bartolomeo ISS Platform

bartolomeo platform on ISS. (Credit: Airbus Defence and Space)

VIENNA and WASHINGTON D.C., 24 October 2019 (Airbus/UNOOSA PR) – At the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Washington D.C., the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and Airbus issued an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for utilizing the Airbus Bartolomeo external platform on the International Space Station (ISS) for missions in the space environment.

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SIA Releases Principles of Space Safety for Commercial Satellite Industry

WASHINGTON, DC (SIA PR) — The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today announced the release of a set of Principles of Space Safety, drafted to help protect freedom of use and long-term access to space by ensuring safe flight operations for satellites, human spacecraft and other space missions.

SIA is a U.S.-based trade association that for more than two decades has advocated on behalf of the U.S. satellite industry regarding policy, regulatory, and legislative issues affecting the commercial satellite business. 

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Experiments Selected to Fly Aboard Chinese Space Station

Artist’s conception of China’s Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

VIENNA,  12 June (UN Information Service) – The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced the winners of their joint opportunity to conduct experiments on board the China Space Station (CSS) during a side event of the 62nd session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).

Six winning projects were selected, and three were conditionally selected. The winning institutions come from a variety of countries, including Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Switzerland.

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