Space traffic management

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Digital & Data Governance
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Space traffic management

What happened?

Space matters can’t be left to a first mover syndrome

It’s getting crowded up there. Satellites and space junk are whizzing around our planet at tremendous speed. It has become a hazard to public and increasingly private operators in what has been called the ‘space race’ ever since Yuri Gagarin’s historic journey around the planet in 1961.

Space agency officials, diplomats, members of the European Parliament, lawyers and private sector space engineers and executives discussed the issue of space traffic management (STM) at a dinner hosted by Friend of Europe. The dinner debate was hosted as part of the Making Space Matter initiative that Friends of Europe is running in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).

A consensus quickly seemed to emerge among the participants that the situation is urgent and Europe has to up its game if it is to avoid being left behind by the United States and China, as well as the proliferation of private sector players, such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

What’s at stake if we don’t act? A lot – safety of space flight, investments, innovation, multilateral norm-making, peaceful international relations,” said one lawyer. The only existing legal framework for space is the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. “The treaty isn’t outdated but it doesn’t go far enough,” the lawyer commented.

We need strong space policy at EU level, as well as globally, but we need to start next year, not in 2024 as the European Commission is thinking,” said one member of the European Parliament.

Schedule

Schedule

Welcome cocktail and registration of participants
Space traffic management
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The discussion at our policy dinner will focus on the following questions:

  • What kinds of ‘rules of the game’ are needed?
  • How do we ensure that the increase of space activities does not lead to the unsustainable exploitation of our environment?
  • In case of collision between a debris and a satellite, how can we ensure the accident is not misunderstood as a purposeful attack?
  • How can private sector stakeholders, including SMEs and microenterprises, be encouraged to cooperate and collaborate with national and international organisations such as NATO?
  • How can Europe lead on this issue and make the management of space traffic part of an all-encompassing geopolitical project?

Moderator

Dharmendra Kanani

Chief Operating Officer and Chief Spokesperson of Friends of Europe

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