Policy

Learning to Share Space

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Science  25 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6020, pp. 988
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6020.988-a
CREDIT: ESA

Though the Cold War inspired nightmares of nuclear incineration, it also spawned treaties that kept space from becoming a lawless, weaponized frontier. As more nations and commercial enterprises launch more crafts toward the heavens, though, new problems emerge, such as orbital debris, satellite crowding and collisions, and radiofrequency spectrum saturation. To maintain security, Robinson argues that we need renewed focus on transparency and confidence-building among spacefaring nations and that we must move beyond the long-standing, dominant, U.S.-Russian bilateral frameworks. Sharing of critical information with other nations and the public, engaging in consultative dialogues, and allowing monitors to verify compliance are among measures often used in promoting security. Some believe such efforts could be best updated by focusing on amending the 1967 U.N. Outer Space Treaty, whereas others promote newer movements, such as the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee. The author proposes the E.U. Draft Code of Conduct as a promising alternative, deliberately structured outside existing multilateral institutions, to engage a broad range of nations in an ongoing process toward establishing standards and best practices.

Space Policy 27, 10.1016/j.spacepol.2010.12.018 (2011).

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