Thursday, January 19, 2012

US Backs EU's Space Conduct Code

I guess it should be no surprise that the US is one of the biggest holdout for recognizing any policy that would require some sort of sanity when it comes to controlling space trash. Well I guess someone in the upper echelons has become somewhat tired of crap falling out of the sky and potentially ruining their day because Dvice is reporting that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement -

  • supporting the European Union's existing space code of conduct
The basic concern from the State Department seems to be that -

  • other countries keep track of all of their space junk 

It is clear that the US government is trying to distract everyone with their interest in a sane policy on space trash.  I think the phrase "irresponsible actors" is particularly ironic.  Mainly because the biggest and most prolific agency that has been leaving garbage in orbit for the last half century or so is, well, not to difficult to figure out that the U.S. is likely one of the most irresponsible actors out there.

Like the author of the original article said:

  • runs the numbers

It's clear that we have had a long standing policy of chuck it and forget it. Rather than be called on it, the government wants to spread the blame around some.   Now, that is not a bad idea, because it DOES get something going here.  Space is for everyone and I have been saying all along that by the time the general public has "low cost" access to Earth orbit, there will be nothing left but a big ole junk heap, while people planet side start ducking and covering again.   It's clear something has to happen soon or one of the greatest resources the Earth has will be useless.

Dvice article


Dave Tackett said...

I agree on all the important principles but I want to challenge one point. The original Dvice author states "my guess is that if anyone runs the numbers, the U.S. is likely one of the most irresponsible actors out there" - emphasis mine. It is his guess, but his guess is almost certainly wrong. According to the Washington Post, China's imfamous anti-satelite test created "as many as 300,000 pieces of debris."

Neither the U.S. nor the Soviet Union / Russia have intentionally created a significant amount of Space Debris since the 1980s (The 2008 U.S. destruction of a defective spy satellite was to prevent a toxic hydrazine propellant from crashing en masse and there was a serious effort to reduce the amount of debris.)

When the issue of Space Junk became readily apparent, the U.S. and U.S.S.R began to clean up their acts. China has not yet done so. Despite the plural, Sec. Clinton's "irresponsible actors" certainly referred primarily, and accurately to them.

Beam Me Up said...

Yeah I thought about keeping that line in, I did because of all the old or failed junk up there, discounting the collision debris, the US has contributed a great deal to the problem, then I went on to remember the Russian and Chinese fiasco and wondered if that more than leveled the playing field. It's true, there are no saints in this play and the time has come to stop childish finger pointing. Right now we are leaving a legacy of filth and destruction in orbit and everyone needs to agree to and then adhere to a sane policy of taking responsibility for the debris that is fast making it problematic to gaining any kind of private sector foothold. NASA has started down the road to try and lessen the amount of material gets left in orbit, which is an excellent start.