The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs is ready to help the international community address the problems posed by a growing number of actors launching and operating spacecraft. At the Satellite 2021 conference on September 7, Simonetta di Pippo, who serves as the director in charge of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, stated, “There is a significant urgency to stabilize global space activities through norm formation and multilateral consensus.” “To provide a safe, secure, and sustainable space atmosphere for tomorrow, we must future-proof our activities now.”
The Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) of the United Nations has 95 members. According to di Pippo, another 5 have submitted proposals, which the UN General Assembly is anticipated to approve later this year. Although COPUOS has a long way to go before including all 193 UN member nations, it can function as a forum for space traffic management debates.
“We all recognize the importance of a centralized coordinating and operational mechanism,” stated di Pippo. “The Office for Outer Space Affairs can assist in raising awareness, showcasing creativity, and developing solutions for this issue.” COPUOS approved 21 criteria for long-term space sustainability in 2019. According to di Pippo, the long-term sustainability principles provide “a solid base on which to develop an additional activity.”
Many countries outside of the conventional space powers realize the value of space for scientific research, technological advancement, and economic opportunity. “Space is becoming increasingly crucial for decision and regulators at all levels and from many backgrounds,” said di Pippo. “It’s another example of the space domain’s growing diversification and expansion.”
The multiplicity of businesses operating satellites and depending on their data streams, as well as the unprecedented expansion in the number of spacecrafts reaching orbit, “presents possibilities but also dangers,” di Pippo added. When Office for Outer Space Affairs organizes the virtual World Space Forum in December, some of the opportunities and risks will be explored. According to di Pippo, government, commercial, and charity organizations will debate space technologies to “raise awareness and guarantee that all parties have a voice,” according to di Pippo.
Di Pippo also addressed the importance of space systems in climate change monitoring in her Satellite 2021 lecture. “One of the major benefits of our ability to track the world in virtually real-time is climate science,” di Pippo said. “Upwards of 50% of the 54 critical climatic indicators can only be observed from space,” according to the report. We will be oblivious to the climate emergency if we don’t have room.
Space 4 Climate Action is an Office of Outer Space initiative aiming to boost initiatives to assist local, national, and international bodies in monitoring and understanding Earth’s climate.