The Final Frontier
Outer Space Security & Governance
By Gahyun Helen You, Policy Analyst with FP Analytics
In 65 years since the first satellite was launched, mankind has evolved from having no presence in outer space to developing a dependence on space assets to power the global economy, support military operations, and further innovation.
In a rapidly digitizing world that is reliant on digital infrastructure, space systems are vital to governments, businesses, and our everyday lives. Space-based assets and data play critical roles in human and national security, touching everything from communication and intelligence to navigation, weather forecasting, monitoring climate change, and disaster mitigation.
As governments and private actors seek to capitalize on the strategic and commercial benefits of space, the domain is becoming increasingly congested and contested. There are 77 countries and multinational organizations today owning and operating satellites, alongside a rapidly growing number of commercial entities similarly engaged in space exploration.
Since 1957, over 12,870 objects have been launched. 4,852 satellites currently orbit Earth, 60 percent of which are operated by the U.S.
Over 10,000 space technology companies, 150 research and development associations, and over 100 launch companies are active globally.
A widespread outage of GPS service, while unlikely, could have an estimated economic impact of $1 billion per-day to the U.S. economy.
The global space economy will be worth more than $1 trillion by 2040.
However, existing regulatory frameworks have been unable to adapt to evolving challenges and hold accountable those who jeopardize safety and security. The potential for future conflicts in space, or for conflicts on Earth to spill into space, is intensifying as a range of actors develop counterspace weapons, such as laser beams, jamming, surveillance, and anti-satellite capabilities that could incapacitate systems on Earth, or worse.
Amid growing concerns of a space arms race, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) warns that “the destruction, damage, or incapacitation of one or more objects in space, even if temporary, could have serious reverberating effects for militaries and civilians alike.”
The Final Frontier: Outer Space Security & Governance is a powerful tool for policy influencers, decisionmakers, and others seeking to better understand global space governance, including as it relates to military, diplomacy, industry, and humanitarianism.
Space is a key enabler of all economic and security activities.
Space plays an essential role in our everyday lives, from enabling security systems, satellite imagery, and internet connectivity to supporting mobile banking and telecommunications and monitoring agriculture production and climate change.
Space is an increasingly congested and contested domain, presenting security and sustainability challenges.
Evolving space capabilities, declining costs, and relatively low barriers to entry have made the space domain and its associated weapons, tools, and technologies increasingly accessible and powerful. China, Russia, India, and the U.S. have conducted anti-satellite weapons tests and there are signs that there may be additional countries exploring or already possessing latent anti-satellite capabilities.
States are no longer the only dominant space actors.
With lines among civil, commercial, and military space blurring, commercial actors are playing a greater role during times of conflict, as evidenced by firms providing satellite imagery, communication, and internet services in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, regulations vary across jurisdictions, leaving firms to largely self-regulate their activities. At present, there are no efforts to coordinate how they may be governed on a global scale.
Greater multistakeholder collaboration on space is needed.
The growing use of space for military purposes, alongside enhancements in cyber and electronic warfare, underscores the imperative to establish clear rules of engagement and enforcement mechanisms to mitigate emergent risks in the space domain.
This Power Map includes a glossary feature developed exclusively for FP Analytics, which defines the key terms used throughout the report. To view definitions, touch on the terms that are underlined in gray.
Key Trends and Issues in Space
Four Trends and Issues Defining the Final Frontier
When the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, into orbit in 1957, it marked a turning point in the “Space Race” between the Soviet Union and the U.S. against the backdrop of the Cold War. From 1957 to 1990, the two countries accounted for 93 percent of all satellites launched into space, with about 70 percent of their launches for military satellites. Today, the world has become dependent on space systems beyond military uses, relying on space-based services and data to support the global economy and daily life. However, space is a fragile environment, threatened by natural occurrences, such as space weather and human activities, which can generate debris and harm space systems. The proliferation of space actors and new technologies heightens risks to space safety and stability and requires more sophisticated and agile regulatory guardrails.
Emerging Spacefaring States
The current situation: Countries are increasingly seeking to establish autonomous capabilities to access, operate, and benefit from space activities. Seventy-seven countries and multilateral organizations have at least one satellite orbiting Earth. Nine countries and one regional organization (the European Space Agency) possess launch capabilities. Given the growing presence of space objects in orbit and the entry of new space actors, effective space traffic management (STM) is vital to ensure safe space operations. International STM standards and best practices are necessary, but regulatory progress has stalled due to limited consensus on the content of regulations alongside technical challenges, such as information sharing, data format standardization and integration, and limited object maneuverability in space. Footnote 1
What’s at stake: With more actors developing and deploying new technologies and space systems, competition over the Moon, space resources, and limited orbital slots, such as cislunar Lagrange points, risks the potential for collisions between objects and for conflict in space or for terrestrial-based conflicts to extend there, particularly among great powers. As the world’s dependence on satellites grows, the obstruction or degradation of space-based services could result in severe economic and security losses. Maintaining access to space is critical, particularly for developing countries, which generally do not have the financial or technological means to deploy their own space systems but rely on space-based assets for crucial services.
Privatization of Space
The current situation: Technological innovations, decreased launch costs, growing availability of space hardware, and increased government support for their domestic commercial space industry has prompted the so-called “New Space Revolution.” Commercial space activity skyrocketed from $110 billion in 2005 to $357 billion in 2020. In 2020, commercial activity accounted for 80 percent of the $447 billion global space economy. Private firms are also increasingly supporting and, in some cases, replacing, government projects in space and becoming leaders in space exploration. For instance, U.S.-based firms SpaceX and Axiom Space are building a commercial space station to replace the International Space Station by 2030.
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What’s at stake: While technological improvements in electronics miniaturization, launching capabilities, and spacecraft reuse are helping to lower operational costs, these developments are leading to increased deployment of smallsats and mega-constellations in low earth orbit (LEO) by private companies. Mega-constellations present challenges for radio-frequency spectrum allocation and orbital safety, since smallsats are typically not equipped with propulsion capacity and cannot perform any collision avoidance or end-of-life disposal maneuvers. Larger constellations and smallsat swarms can improve surveillance capabilities and high-precision data, raising concerns from countries such as Russia that commercial satellites could be used for military purposes. This blurs what constitutes civil, commercial, and military space, making it increasingly difficult to determine when rules of engagement and international humanitarian law apply.
Weaponization of Space
The current situation: Counterspace capabilities, including destructive and non-destructive means, are those developed by one country to counter or neutralize another country’s space capabilities. Since the Cold War, countries have leveraged space for military applications, but as more actors enter space, there are growing concerns about the placement of space-based devices that could have destructive capacities, such as anti-satellite weapons (ASATs) which can damage or destroy satellites. To date, China, Russia, India, and the U.S. have conducted ASAT tests, and there are signs that there may be additional countries that are exploring or already possess latent ASAT capabilities.
What’s at stake: Existing international frameworks have demonstrably failed to prevent countries from developing and launching counterspace capabilities, and discussions surrounding proposed frameworks for governance have stalemated for decades. The U.S. possesses the most robust spacefaring capabilities, and several countries are seeking to leverage the space domain to enhance their military capabilities. For instance, Canada, Norway, Russia, Denmark, and the U.S. have launched military satellites to provide communication and Earth-imaging services in the Arctic. The growing use of space for military purposes, including military satellite communications, missile-warning systems, and reconnaissance, has, in part, incited a resurgence of counterspace capabilities. Enhancements in electronic warfare, cyber, and dual-use technologies have prompted a so-called “new space arms race.”
The current situation: Currently, an estimated 36,500 pieces of orbital debris, including natural meteoroid and artificial (human-made), larger than 10 centimeters exist in Earth’s orbit. Orbital debris, regardless of its mass, can travel at high speeds (15,700 mph/25,267 kmp) and damage spacecraft. If no immediate action is taken, enough debris in orbit could cause a cascade of collisions that would “render certain orbits unusable.” With private firms looking to launch mega-constellations, addressing the risks posed by space debris will be increasingly important, especially as space becomes congested with more satellites and increased space activities.
What’s at stake: While governments recognize the hazards that debris present to the space domain, most efforts focus on preventing the increase of new debris in space rather than the removal of existing debris. After the Russian ASAT test in November 2021, which generated at least 1,500 trackable debris pieces and thousands of untraceable ones, there have been calls to ban ASAT weapons testing that creates debris and for improved space debris management mechanisms. Following the incident, the Paris Peace Forum launched the Net Zero Space initiative, which calls on participants to contain and reduce debris by 2030. However, it does not provide details as to how, or who is responsible for debris removal.
Key International Policy Frameworks
Overview of Global Space Governance Mechanisms
As space increasingly becomes a fundamental part of daily life and modern military operations and weaponry, damages to critical space infrastructure located in space and on Earth can reverberate across the world. Moreover, damages to the space environment are not as easily rectifiable and, instead, require vast sums of money plus hyperspecialized expertise to repair.
Risks to space systems are mounting, but existing international legal and regulatory frameworks, such as the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST), do not reflect the evolution of the space domain in the last six decades. Indeed, UN General Assembly Resolution 69/32 (2014) reaffirms that “the legal regime applicable to outer space by itself does not guarantee prevention of an arms race in outer space.” Several new issues unresolved by today’s global space governance structure include: the increasingly limited number of radio frequency and orbital slots and configurations, commercial space use, intentional harmful interference to satellites, space-based solar power use, space natural resource mining, and possible future space use by terrorists, among others.
A lack of consensus, however, persists on what international norms to adopt. Experts point out that there is a disagreement as to what space is meant to be used for because existing treaties discuss space being “used for peaceful purposes.” This leads to divergent perceptions on whether “peaceful purposes” means non-military or non-aggressive activities, and by extension, what the threats to space are. More fundamentally, states are reluctant to relinquish their military capabilities in space, because they do not want to limit their own freedom of action in space. As a result, countries fail to follow voluntary norms on what is acceptable in space, presenting acute risks to human security in space and on Earth.
Recognizing the heightened threats to governments and private industries, and the need for renewed action on space security and governance, in 2020, UN Member States submitted reports sharing their views on what the key threat to space security and stability is, such as limiting debris generation; avoiding harmful interference of space activities, like non-consensual close approaches; and communicating activities to enhance safety and stability. A UN Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) also plans to meet from 2022 to 2023, with the first set of meetings scheduled to take place in May 2022, to consider how discussions might be progressed.
In addition, there are independent, academic efforts to create manuals akin to the Tallin Manuals on cyberspace to answer how laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law apply to space—the Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Operations and the Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS). Both projects are scheduled to be released later in 2022.
1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST)
111 UN Member States ratified; 23 signed on
The 1967 OST promotes peaceful exploration, scientific discovery, and international cooperation in space. Article IV, which prohibits parties from placing nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in orbit, on the moon, or on other celestial bodies, is a key provision for maintaining peace and security. It bans the establishment of military bases, weapons testing, and conduct of military maneuvers.
While the placement of WMDs in space is banned, the OST does not forbid the use of WMDs or weapons such as missiles from being launched from Earth to target objects in space. The OST also leaves ambiguous the definitions of key space governance concepts, such as what entails the “peaceful use of outer space” and “use of force.” Moreover, the OST framework does not cover new challenges in space, such as satellite servicing, space debris removal, and space traffic management.
In addition, although Article VI stipulates that any company operating in space does so as an extension of its home government, in practice, regulations vary across jurisdictions as many states seek to encourage the development of their domestic space industries. For instance, Canada, China, Germany, and India are prominent space actors experiencing rapid private-sector participation. While they have licensing requirements and some policies regulating space-related technologies and data for companies, these states have “yet to enact comprehensive space legislation to enforce all aspects of the Outer Space Treaty and other international space-related agreements.” The U.S.’s space regulatory regime is also worryingly fragmented among several federal agencies. Differing interpretations regarding what types of activities, and which agencies are responsible for oversight, have hindered efforts to streamline regulations. As a result, no single federal agency has the authority to authorize and supervise the world’s largest commercial space industry. Footnote 5
Critical treaties that build on the OST include:
- 1968 Rescue Agreement: All parties must aid astronauts and return them and their spacecraft to the launching state.
- 1972 Liability Convention: A launching state is liable for damages inflicted on Earth by its spacecraft, and liable if its spacecraft causes harm to another state’s satellite.
- 1975 Registration Convention: All parties must maintain national registries of objects they launch into space, and report basic information to the UN.
- 1979 Moon Agreement: Provides guidance concerning the use of natural resources from the moon.
Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities (LTS) Guidelines
95 UN Member States agreed
The 21 LTS Guidelines recommend technical and operational standards, and responsible norms of behavior for both state and non-state actors to mitigate risks associated with space activities and ensure space sustainability. They are not legally binding, and countries voluntarily choose to incorporate them in their national legislation. The LST guidelines’ broad scope, combined with a lack of common understanding of key concepts, contributes to inconsistent implementation across space actors.
UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) Report on Transparency and Confidence Building Measures (TCBMs) in Outer Space Activities
The 2013 UN Group of Governmental Experts’ report on TCMBs recommends how states can promote information sharing regarding their national space policies and goals. This can include risk-reduction notices with respect to flight safety and emergencies, launch site and command-and-control center visits, and space and rocket tech demonstrations. The goal is to prevent military confrontation in space by fostering trust between states to reduce misperceptions regarding states’ activities and intentions.
The GGE report could serve as the basis for future legally binding international commitments for global space governance. However, measures in the report are recommendations that are only enforceable if states voluntarily incorporate into their national legislation. Space actors have been slow to adopting the GGE’s recommendations as policy discussions related to space security have stalemated.
Draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT)
To advance discussions concerning a space arms control agreement, at the 2008 Conference on Disarmament, China and Russia introduced a draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space and of the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). The PPWT seeks to ban the placement of weapons, specifically the testing or deployment of space-based missile defense interceptors amid concerns that such capabilities could undermine their nuclear deterrent forces and early-warning satellites.
Critics point out that China and Russia’s efforts to militarize space are inconsistent with the principles and objectives proposed in the PPWT. In addition, the PPWT lacks critical verification mechanisms and allows for the development and stockpiling of ground-based ASAT weapons. Victoria Samson from the Secure World Foundation noted that the PPWT is an attempt by China and Russia to limit U.S. space activities despite little evidence to suggest that the U.S. nor any other countries are attempting to put space-based missile defense interceptors in orbit.
The creation and deployment of space-based missile defense interceptors would be a significant escalation that would undermine efforts to promote stability and security in space. A global space-based missile defense system in LEO would require hundreds of interceptors and would be very costly. (For example, 600 interceptors are estimated to cost $300 billion, or almost 40 percent of the U.S. military’s FY2023 budget.)
Despite the PPWT’s shortcomings, the U.S. and its allies have not proposed an alternative to it. However, in April 2022 ahead of the OEWG meetings, the Biden administration announced that the U.S. would no longer conduct direct-ascent ASAT tests, citing China’s 2007 and Russia’s 2021 ASAT tests that caused thousands of pieces of debris and the risks they pose to space security and sustainability.
Key Space Actors
Breaking Down the Foreign-policy Goals and Space Capabilities of 10 Key Actors
Increased reliance on space for national security is incentivizing more countries to develop their own space capabilities from indigenous SSA to the creation of new space military organizations. Overall, states are looking to ensure that they have continued and reliable access to their space assets and data in what they see as an increasingly competitive and possibly hostile space environment.
This section provides a summary analysis of ten key state and non-state space actors. It includes a breakdown of how space fits into their foreign-policy and national security goals, their space capabilities and objectives, the key federal agency responsible for conducting military activities in space, and noteworthy initiatives and partnerships.
The Future of Space Security & Governance
The proliferation of state and non-state actors in space, alongside the expansion of digital connectivity, warrants closer assessment to anticipate and address emerging risks. To advance the safety and sustainability of space exploration, there is a need to establish norms to guide responsible state and non-state behavior as well as to develop enforceable international policy frameworks.
Governments, the private sector, and international organizations have put forth numerous frameworks and recommendations for international norms regarding space. However, international discussions regarding space security and governance have languished for decades due to disagreements among states regarding how space is meant to be used and what obligations different spacefaring actors have to each other.
Absent effective regulation, the private sector has developed some of its own self-regulating mechanisms but those alone are inadequate, especially as more objects are launched into space, and states seek to develop counterspace capabilities, which heighten the risks of collision and potential conflict. Discussions through the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats from 2022 to 2023 will be important to strengthening and progressing space governance mechanisms, particularly as they relate to the weaponization of space, space debris, and space traffic management, among others.
Beyond the issues, actors, and frameworks covered in this Power Map, further analysis and engagement are needed related to how space shapes economic growth opportunities for developing countries, mineral recovery from asteroids and other celestial bodies, cybersecurity of space assets and data, and space-based solar power, which can potentially help meet future energy needs.
Written by Gahyun Helen You. Edited by Mayesha Alam. Copyedited by David Johnstone. Art direction and design by Sara Stewart. Development by Andy Baughman and Wes Piper. Creative direction by Lori Kelley. Illustration by Colin Hayes for Foreign Policy.
- Anti-satellite: Space technology and capabilities used to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic or tactical purposes. Such capabilities are usually organized into direct-ascent or co-orbital. ASAT capabilities can also target terrestrial-based space infrastructure such as ground stations.
- Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO): APSCO was formed in 2005 by China. It includes Bangladesh, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand, and Turkey. Its goal is to expand and normalize the use of China’s Beidou satellite navigation system.
- Command-and-control (C2): A system that gathers data from space- and ground-based sensors and transmits this data to a data repository. It enables commanders to make timely decisions.
- Co-orbital rendezvous: Also known as “Rendezvous Proximity Operations” (RPO), these are orbital maneuvers in which two spacecraft arrive at the same orbit and approach at a close distance. RPOs support key space activities such as on-orbit servicing and refueling, docking with space stations for human spaceflight. Currently, there is no international consensus regarding which activities are considered RPOs.
- Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space: COPUOS is a UN committee made up of 95 countries. Its goals are to foster international cooperation in peaceful uses of space and to consider legal issues arising from the exploration of space.
- CONFERS: The Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations is an industry-led initiative that establishes best practices for rendezvous and proximity operations (RPOs). Thus far, there has been little international engagement on defining what activities constitute RPOs and norms of behavior related to RPOs.
- Counterspace capabilities: Capabilities developed by a country to counter or neutralize another country’s space capabilities. This can be done through destructive and non-destructive means.
- Cyber: Digital techniques that are used to control, compromise, interfere, or destroy computer systems. Cyberattacks on space systems can result in loss of data or service provided by a satellite, or a bad actor seizing control of a satellite through its command-and-control system.
- Dazzling: A non-kinetic form of weaponry in which an actor could blind an imagery satellite by pointing a laser up at it from the ground. To avoid dazzling, satellite operators can install filters to block out specific wavelengths or a lens cover that can snap shut instantly.
- Digital Silk Road: Announced in 2015, the Digital Silk Road seeks to advance the technological dimensions of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to increase international e-commerce by investing in digital infrastructure abroad and developing advanced technologies, including satellite navigation systems.
- Dual-use technologies: Technologies that can be used for civilian and military purposes. For instance, a robotic arm that is used to move space debris can also be used to grab another satellite. More dual-use capabilities are expected to be developed as actors continue to develop on-orbit surfacing, on-orbit logistics, and debris-removal capabilities. An estimated 95 percent of space technology is dual-use.
- Electronic warfare (EW): Weapons using radiofrequency energy to interfere with the communications to and/or from satellites. Examples include jamming (preventing a signal) and spoofing (giving an incorrect signal).
- European Commission Regulatory Scrutiny Board: An independent body within the European Commission that provides assessments and evaluations of the early stages of the Commission’s legislative process. It acts as a support and quality-assurance body.
- European Space Agency (ESA): The ESA is an intergovernmental organization composed of 22 European states, not all of which are part of the European Union. It is not an EU body, but it plays a vital role in EU programming, providing technical expertise for Europe’s space projects.
- Free-space optical communications: The wireless transmission of data via a modulated optical beam, such as a laser, through free space. This can be used to facilitate communication, to, from, and between satellites and is able to resist jamming efforts. FOS can support the creation of a global broadband communication grid.
- Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO): An orbital sphere located 22,236 miles (35,786 kilometers) above the Earth’s equator that allows satellites to match the Earth’s rotation. Critical satellites that monitor weather and provide communication and surveillance services are located there.
- Global satellite navigation system (GNSS): A satellite constellation that provides positioning, navigation, and timing services on a global or regional basis. GPS is the most prevalent. Other GNSS systems include China’s Beidou, the EU’s Galileo, Russia’s GLONASS, India’s NavIC, and Japan’s QZSS. Accurate PNT is necessary for the functioning of many critical infrastructure sectors. GPS signals are low-power and unencrypted, making them vulnerable to intentional and unintentional disruption.
- International Committee on GNSS: A UN committee that promotes voluntary cooperation among civil global navigation satellite system providers to work on combability, interoperability, and utilization of satellites for sustainable development purposes.
- Kessler Syndrome: A theory proposed by NASA scientists Donald Kessler in 1978 that describes a self-sustaining cascading collision of space debris in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Two colliding objects in space would generate more debris that then collides with other objects, littering LEO, ultimately hindering future space activities.
- Lagrange points: Areas in space where the gravitational forces of two celestial bodies, such as the Moon and Earth, produce regions of enhanced orbital stability. This can allow spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position. Fuel is one of the biggest costs of space missions.
- Launching capabilities: The ability to deliver payloads into space. Many commercial entities are attempting to enter the launch industry with the support from a state that has established launch capabilities.
- Low Earth Orbit (LEO): Orbit relatively close to Earth at an altitude of less than 1,000 km. Satellites in LEO cover a limited area of Earth and often perform specific missions, such as high-resolution images. LEO provides global coverage, high bandwidth, and low communication latency for small communication satellites. Thus, a mega-constellation can provide continuous coverage of Earth. Satellites in LEO can be reached by ground-based ASATs using missiles.
- Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space: Launched in 2016, MILAMOS is a parallel effort to the Woomera Manual that seeks to better define the legal structure of space. It is led by scholars at McGill University (Canada), which is partnering with numerous institutions from Australia, China, India, Japan, Russia, and the U.S.
- Mega-constellations: Satellite constellations that use hundreds to tens of thousands of satellites in low earth orbit (LEO), delivering low latency broadband data services, internet access, and other services to civil and military users.
- Non-reversable: Referring to effects that can cause temporary or permanent effects, such as a kinetic energy attack on a space system, physical attacks on space-related ground infrastructure, or a nuclear detonation in space.
- OneWeb: A Low Earth Orbit (LEO), commercial satellite communications company based in the UK. The British government is a major shareholder of the company, alongside India-based firm Bharti Global. The Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy notably cautioned against the decision for the British government to invest $500 million in OneWeb in 2020.
- Quad: The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is a group of four countries (Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S.), whose primary aim is to counter China’s growing influence and military presence in the Indo-Pacific region.
- Remote sensing: Obtaining information about objects or areas from a distance, typically from an aircraft or satellite. The COVID-19 pandemic drove numerous countries to use remote sensing technology to monitor and curb the spread of the virus. The growth of commercial space remote sensing and dual-use applications presents potential national security risks, making them subject to licensing and regulatory requirements by U.S. federal agencies.
- Reversable: Referring to effects that are nondestructive and temporary; a system can resume normal operations after an incident. This includes space situational awareness systems, electronic warfare, and denial and deception tactics.
- Skynet: A UK military satellite system that provides strategic communication services.
- Smallsats: Small satellites that are 600 kg and under. While their size and mass could reduce launch costs, they complicate orbital safety. Eighty-three percent of smallsats launched from 2011 to 2020 are owned by five private companies, with U.S.-based SpaceX contributing 47 percent.
- Space debris management mechanisms: The mitigation and remediation of space debris.
- Space debris: Also known as “orbital debris” or “space junk.” This material includes natural meteoroid and artificial (human-made) orbital debris.
- Space Development Agency: A relatively new agency established in March 2019, the SDA supports the U.S. Department of Defense’s space acquisition process.
- Space governance: The laws and regulatory institutions responsible for the governance or regulation of space-related affairs or activities.
- Space Information Corridor: Announced in 2016, the Space Information Corridor seeks to provide space information services to countries participating in the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative. OBOR was launched in 2013 to support Chinese efforts to foster closer economic ties with countries in Eurasia and Africa.
- Space internet: The ability to provide internet services from satellites. China’s StarNet, U.S. SpaceX’s Starlink, and Amazon’s Project Kuiper are examples efforts to build a constellation that could beam internet connectivity down to Earth.
- Space Mission Planning Advisory Group: A UN-endorsed group that facilitates scientific and defense cooperation among the space agencies of UN Member States in case of a near-Earth object threat.
- Space resources: The moon, other planets, and asteroids contain various minerals, gases, and water that scientists believe could be used to provide raw materials and energy needed to sustain human life and enable exploration deeper into space. For instance, it is estimated that one of two metallic asteroids currently near Earth’s orbit may contain about $11.65 trillion worth of precious metals.
- Space security: The secure and sustainable access to, and use of, space and freedom from space-based threats, as stated in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.
- Space Situational Awareness (SSA): A global network that continuously tracks objects in orbits and predicts where those objects will be at any given time. Terrestrial and space-based sensors search the sky for satellites and record their orbits, allowing for the prediction of their orbits and determination of their functions and operational status.
- Space solar power: SSP encompasses orbital systems that collect sunlight and convert that solar energy into microwaves or lasers and transmit that energy to receivers on Earth. The energy is then converted into electricity and delivered to a grid on Earth. With more actors launching lunar missions, there are risks of potential territorial conflict on the moon, as there are only specific areas that are ideal for SSP.
- Space superhighway: As companies look to further develop space and build up the space economy, there have been calls to develop architecture for in-space mobility and logistics such as hubs to allow spacecraft to refuel.
- Space sustainability: The ability for humanity to continue to use space for peaceful purposes and socioeconomic benefit over the long term.
- Space traffic management: The on-orbit coordination of activities to enhance the safety, stability, and sustainability of operations in the space environment. An STM system is vital for avoiding collisions and radiofrequency (RF) interference while facilitating space operations in an increasingly congested space environment.
- Tallin Manuals: Identifies international law principles applicable to cyber warfare and cyber conflict. It was first published in March 2013 by legal scholars.
- Terrestrial-based assets: These can include ground stations or command-and-control centers that support satellites on Earth. They are also vulnerable to physical attacks by conventional military weapons, natural disasters, and cyberattacks.
- UN First Committee: One of the six main committees at the General Assembly of the United Nations. It handles issues related to disarmament, global challenges, and threats to peace that affect the international community.
- UN Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space: A treaty-based mechanism, governed by the Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space, that identifies the state that is responsible for a space object.
- Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Operations: An ongoing research project that aims to answer how international law applies to the space domain, by scholars from the University of Adelaide (Australia), the University of Exeter (UK), the University of Nebraska College of Law (U.S.), and the University of New South Wales in Canberra (Australia).
- Acton, J., McDonald, T., and Vaddl, P. (2021, December 16). Approaching the Third Rail? A Trilateral Treaty to Prohibit Space-Based Missile Defense. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/12/16/approaching-third-rail-trilateral-treaty-to-prohibit-space-based-missile-defenses-pub-85965
- Alhashmi, K. et al. (2020, November 11). NSSTC capabilities and the GNSSaS satellite project. Aeronautics and Aerospace Open Access Journal, 4(4), https://medcraveonline.com/AAOAJ/AAOAJ-04-00117.pdf
- Alterman, J. (2019, May 9). Statement before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism. Chinese Russian Influence in the Middle East. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism. https://www.congress.gov/116/meeting/house/109455/witnesses/HHRG-116-FA13-Wstate-AltermanJ-20190509.pdf
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