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We need a new model of space governance to address today’s challenges

Access to space is growing, with more than 70 nations now operating space programmes. We urgently need to update international rules, says chair of the UAE Space Agency Sarah Al Amiri


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25 January 2023

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Simone Rotella

A NEW space age is upon us. The two-horse race that characterised our early exploration of space has been transformed into a global, highly dynamic industry. Our existing models of space governance and collaboration are no longer effective and we urgently need new ones that address emerging geopolitical, economic and sustainability challenges.

The space industry is rightly seen as pioneering: not only does it continually expand the boundaries of exploration, but it enables growth at home. From communications to meteorology to engineering, it has an outsized impact on our economies, adding high-value services and creating skilled jobs. It isn’t surprising …

Source link The future of space exploration and the long-term sustainable existence of humanity may rely largely on effective space governance. However, the current space governance system, largely shaped by the 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST), is over 50 years old and needs a refresh in order to address the multitude of issues present today.

Much has changed since the ratification of the OST. Many new advanced technologies have been developed, specifically in the realms of space-based surveillance, communications and navigation. The creation of the internet of things and the rise of data analytics has extended the reach of organisations and has allowed governments to track and monitor activity both domestically and internationally. In addition, the rise of private companies launching their own research and missions into space has meant that the traditional model of space governance is insufficient.

While the original OST was a framework for mutual cooperation, the new model of space governance must go beyond this and provide more clarity on the distribution of power and responsibility in space. The current OST is silent on the responsibilities of the states in terms of addressing transboundary issues, waste management, orbital debris and the protection of space assets. As discussed in a report from the Council of Foreign Relations, “making sure that states have incentives and ability to comply with the rules is a key element in the design of any effective space regime.”

A new model of space governance must provide agreed-upon principles for the use and safety of space, and establish regulatory and financial structures to ensure the implementation of these principles. It must also take into account the interests and concerns of both public and private entities involved in space development, and strike a balance between economic and ecological interests.

The future of humanity and the environment may depend on a successful new model of space governance, and it is incumbent on leaders around the world to commit to developing one that meets the challenges of today. It is only with effective international agreements that the sustainable use of space, protecting the rights of all stakeholders, and ensuring safe and equitable access to resources in space can be secured.

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