Norms of Behavior
Promoting space sustainability is highly dependent on the ability to prevent negative trends from becoming norms in order to ensure that all actors can use the domain of space in an equitable manner. SSI will work closely with key stakeholders in the industry to form multidisciplinary working groups aimed at developing norms of behavior to provide best practices for the peaceful, safe and responsible commercialization of space.
Constellations of satellites and specialized craft are transforming the way we work and live. Our global financial and telecommunications networks depend on them. And innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning have been powered by the data that is collected from these constellations, with implications from helping automated cars safely navigate to delivering the GPS, telecom, weather and data that will help the world meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
Tens of thousands of satellites are planned for launch through 2025 alone, and they will enable technological and human advancements at levels we can’t yet imagine. Most of these satellites will be located with the 2000-kilometer-wide band known as low-Earth orbit (LEO) — bringing an increased urgency to both factor in the costs of space debris and to establish norms to keep space safe.
Orbital debris, commonly known as "space junk," exists at all levels of orbit and is especially concentrated in LEO. Space debris — some as small as a paint chip and as large as discarded a booster rocket—can render significant, and sometimes terminal, damage. The European Space Agency estimates that there are nearly 1 million pieces of debris measuring between one and ten centimeters floating around LEO.
As part of its work, SSI will investigate the amount of orbital space debris in earth orbit by object type and its relationship to space sustainability.
Support to Entrepreneurs
SSI is committed to promoting a new generation of space entrepreneurs. In close collaboration with the advisory board members, the initiative will develop a market analysis to identify the essential elements for a functional business model template for conducting the “business of space.” SSI will also develop a curriculum for an Executive Education program for space-minded entrepreneurs in the commercial space industry.
The space domain, in particular low-Earth orbit (LEO), is undergoing a rapid diversification and increase in the number of actors seeking to benefit from the commercialization of space. Advances in reusable rockets, lowered per-launch costs and miniaturization of satellites are just a few of the factors that have dramatically reduced the barriers to entry. Commercial actors are not alone; as the number of new space companies has risen, so too has the number of state actors interested in benefiting from easier access to space. Nations such as Australia, Japan, Luxembourg, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates have pressed forward with the development of their own space agencies and are quickly becoming players on the international stage.
The growth in entrepreneurial activities and the influx of new commercial space actors has exposed the potential to exacerbate many of the current threats to the short- and long-term sustainability of space. These include congestion of active satellites and spacecraft, radio-frequency interference and the proliferation of space debris. Addressing the need for space sustainability means we can prevent negative trends from becoming norms and ensure that all actors can use the domain of space in an equitable manner.