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Monday, March 07, 2011


A)U.S.Air Force Launches Robotic Space Plane on Mystery Mission

After being delayed a day by bad weather, the U.S. Air Force's second X-37B robotic space plane blasted off from Florida this afternoon (March 5) on a mystery mission shrouded in secrecy.

The unmanned X-37B mini-shuttle — known as Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2) — took to the skies from Cape Canaveral at 5:46 p.m. ET today, tucked away in the nose cone atop a huge Atlas 5 rocket.

MORE AT http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/05/air-force-launches-robotic-space-plane-mystery-mission/

                                           MUSE URANIA

B)Space Governance and International Cooperation

The National Space Policy and posture reviews of the Obama Administration place much greater
emphasis on international cooperation than did the George W. Bush administration.1 So far,
though, the new administration has not articulated a coherent and compelling strategic concept to
guide its pursuit of space cooperation. Department of Defense (DOD) officials have argued that
the United States needs more informal cooperation because space is increasingly “congested,”
“competitive,” and “contested.”2 State Department officials have used more diplomatic terms,
saying that space is not only “congested,” but also “multifaceted” and “interdependent.”3 Each
phrase reflects a different, somewhat contradictory way of defining the problem that space
cooperation could help solve. Each also puts conceptual limits on the kinds of cooperation
deemed worthy of serious U.S. consideration in ways that reduce the likelihood of international
agreement on measures that would advance the administration’s main policy objectives in space
and its overall national security strategy.
This conceptual confusion may explain the gap between the Obama Administration’s declared
interest in space cooperation and the lowest-common-denominator measures that it has endorsed.
For example, the United States recently announced that it would begin providing pre-launch
notification for commercial and civilian satellites, but not national security satellites, and only
for “the majority” of intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic
missiles.4 This is a positive gesture, but it only partially fulfills the Hague Code of Conduct
pledge made, but never implemented, by the Bush Administration. It falls far short of a prelaunch
and post-launch notification accord signed with Russia during the Clinton Administration.

Likewise, while stronger norms regarding responsible space behavior are a central element of the
new National Space Policy, the United States has shown more interest in voluntary measures
proposed by allies than in binding constraints on those countries whose space behavior most
concerns the United States, and vice versa.5 Without knowing how such voluntary transparency
measures and norms fit in overall U.S. national space policy and security strategies, it is hard to
judge how likely they are to lead to more ambitious, robust, and effective forms of cooperation in
the future.
One way to think more strategically about the role of space cooperation in achieving U.S.
objectives is to evaluate different ways of conceptualizing why it might be useful, what kinds of
cooperation would be preferable, and whether other key countries are likely to agree to measures
that will produce the desired results. Three strategic objectives represent a core of continuity in
U.S. national space policy over time, despite major disagreements about what they mean in
practice and how they should be pursued: (1) to secure the space domain for peaceful use; (2) to
protect space assets from all hazards; and (3) to derive maximum value from space for security,
economic, civil, and environmental ends.
This paper analyzes the three strategic logics for space cooperation evoked by different policy
ideas being used in the Obama Administration’s space and security policies. The Global
Commons logic seeks more informal cooperation so that a multitude of self-interested space
users can share a “congested” environment without causing unintentional harm. In the Strategic
Stability logic, U.S. use of space is increasingly “contested” by states or non-state actors who
might attack vulnerable space assets to offset U.S. military advantages. In this logic, the primary
purpose of space cooperation is to minimize such attacks by increasing the negative
consequences for attackers, reducing their potential benefits, and avoiding misperceptions. The
Space Governance for Global Security logic centers on characterizations of space as
“interdependent” and “multifaceted.” This logic emphasizes that the more different countries,
companies, and individuals depend on space for a growing array of purposes, the more they need
equitable rules, shared decision-making procedures, and effective compliance mechanisms to
maximize the benefits that they all can gain from space, while minimizing risks from
irresponsible space behaviors or deliberate interference with legitimate space activities.
Each logic highlights important features of the evolving space arena, and each gives good
reasons why greater international cooperation could help accomplish U.S. objectives at an
acceptable level of risks and costs. Since the main goal of U.S. space policy in recent years has
been to maximize U.S. military power and freedom of action in space, with commercial and
civilian interests subordinated to that goal,6 most Americans and allies who argue for greater
space cooperation use the Global Commons or Strategic Stability logics. Although the Global
Commons logic has the widest appeal, emerging space environmental problems do not seem
urgent enough to motivate much more cooperation than has already been achieved since this
collective action rationale for cooperation gained adherents in the 1990s. Framing the case for
space cooperation in environmental terms also obscures, and is obstructed by, conflicting
security interests among different spacefaring nations. Using the Strategic Stability logic to build
the case for more space security cooperation, on the other hand, intensifies the sense of urgency
by exaggerating conflicting security interests. In doing so, though, it risks inadvertently
stimulating competition, and undermining the prospects for cooperation.
The Space Governance for Global Security Logic broadens the rationale for cooperation to
include the mutual positive gains that space users can achieve at lower cost through
collaboration, as well as the negative benefits from reducing risks of inadvertent interference and
deliberate attack. It offers a more compelling reason to increase policy coordination than the
Global Commons logic does, and a more constructive context for space security cooperation than
the Strategic Stability logic. Although the Space Governance for Global Security logic might
encounter more initial political resistance in the United States than the other two logics, it is
more likely to produce international agreements that accomplish the desired results. Domestic
political resistance could be overcome by showing how space has become integral not only to
modern U.S. military operations, but to all the major elements of the 2010 National Security
Strategy’s vision for promoting security, prosperity, and shared values by building a just and
sustainable international order in space as well as on Earth.
Sustainable Management of Space as a Global Commons
Domains, such as space, the high seas, the atmosphere, and Antarctica, that are considered
“global commons” lie beyond the sovereign jurisdiction of any state, are governed by
international law, and are available for all to use for the common good. This creates a right of
access that does not exist for land, territorial waters, or airspace under a sovereign government’s
control, at the same time that it strengthens the responsibility to respect other states’ interests.
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty (OST) provides the basic legal framework for managing space as a
global commons. It designates space as the “province of all mankind.”7 It cannot be appropriated
(Article II), but can be freely accessed “without discrimination of any kind,” and “on a basis of
equality.” The exploration and use of space should be “for the benefit …of all countries,
irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development” (Article I), and must be “in
accordance with international law… and in the interests of maintaining international peace and
security” (Article III). The OST further specifies that States Parties shall conduct space activities
“with due regard to the corresponding interests of all other States Parties.”
They shall consult  before doing anything that might cause harmful interference for other space users (Article IX), shall be liable for damage caused to others (Article VII), and shall help each other’s astronauts in   emergencies (Article V). Neither the OST, nor any subsequent space law, though, provides  detailed rules or an authoritative process for deciding what types of space activities are
inconsistent with these principles, when the individual or cumulative usage of space might
damage the common interests, and how the benefits from space activities should be shared.
For collective action theorists, the global commons characteristic of space evokes Garrett
Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons,” a class of coordination problems that arise when many
short-sighted, self-interested users try to maximize their own gains from consuming a nonexcludable
public good without regard for the net negative effects on other users, on finite
resources, on the shared environment, and even on their own long-term benefits.8 As the
commons becomes overcrowded and degraded, users must consume more just to get the same
level of benefit, so a downward spiral begins that individual users are powerless to stop.
Averting tragedy involves either the establishment of a central authority to make rules, verify compliance, and respond to violations, or less formal self-regulation by enough users to ensure
sustainability. Voluntary norms, transparency measures, and peer pressure can produce
sustainable behavior if the users value their social relationships as much as they value their shortterm
material gains from over-using or abusing the commons; if all users can be educated to
understand that mutual restraint is essential to preserving their livelihood over time; or, if the
common environment can tolerate a moderate amount of bad behavior without breaking down.
Clear legal rules, effective verification, and well-resourced implementing organizations become
more important when a weak sense of community leaves the users focused primarily on their
own short-term cost-benefit calculations, when the sustainability of the global commons is under
more serious threat, and when high rates of compliance are needed to protect it.9
Despite the vastness of space, certain kinds of crowding and irresponsible use are already raising
the risks that individual space users will inadvertently cause problems for each other. The two
most commonly cited examples involve allocating orbital slots and radio-frequency (RF)
spectrum so that one satellite’s transmissions do not interfere with a neighboring satellite’s
operations, and minimizing orbital debris that could damage satellites or space vehicles. Because
the most powerful actors would currently rather keep negotiation and implementation costs low
and preserve flexibility than obtain high rates of compliance with effective and equitable rules,
they have preferred relatively weak international coordination and self-governance mechanisms.
But the inadequacies of this approach are apparent in both areas, and will likely get worse as the
number and diversity of space users continues to grow, each wanting more from space and each
able to have a greater impact, for better or for worse, on others’ space usage.
Overcrowding is most severe in geostationary orbit (GEO), where satellites need substantial
orbital separation so that the high-powered signals required to reach Earth do not interfere with
neighboring satellites. Only a small number of satellites can fit in the equatorial arcs over the
United States and other prime geographic locations.10 Resource constraints and interference
problems are not increasing proportionally to satellite population growth because technological
advances are enabling satellites to operate in closer proximity, use RF spectrum more efficiently,
and coordinate movements to avoid affecting neighboring satellites. Still, the International
Telecommunications Union (ITU) system for coordinating orbital slots and spectrum usage
needs ongoing improvement to process registration applications more efficiently, reduce “paper
satellites” (slots registered to non-existent satellites), and increase compliance with registrations
and technical recommendations. As more new countries and companies gain the technological
capability and financial resources to put satellites in GEO, pressure will mount to revisit a system
that still allocates scarce orbital slots foremost on a “first come, first served” basis, more or less
in perpetuity.11
In addition to 1,100 active satellites, space is also littered with debris and defunct satellites, spent
rocket stages, explosion or collision fragments, paint flecks, and other human-made objects that
serve no useful purpose. The United States currently tracks more than 19,000 objects that are 10
centimeters (cm) or larger, and experts estimate that there are another 300,000 objects in the 1 to
10 cm range, each able to cause serious damage if it collides with a satellite at orbital speeds,
plus millions or billions of very small objects that could degrade satellites or damage certain
sensors and subsystems.12
While collisions between space objects have been rare, several recent hits and near misses have
increased awareness of the operational risks and complications caused by space debris.13 Of
greatest concern is the possibility that a cascade of collisions—a series of hits creating ever
larger numbers of debris and greater collision probabilities—could make some “valuable orbital
regions increasingly inhospitable to space operations over the next few decades.”14
Spacefaring countries have made gradual progress on debris mitigation. Beginning in the 1990s,
the United States, the European Space Agency (ESA), and other spacefaring countries developed
national guidelines to reduce the production of debris during launch and on-orbit operations, to
move GEO satellites into graveyard orbits at the end of their service life, and to put defunct low
Earth orbit (LEO) satellites into 25-year decay orbits. Following such best practices involves
additional costs, complicates operations, and shortens the useful life of satellites. Therefore,
national requirements, compliance, and enforcement levels vary. Some space-users, including
China, still do not have national debris mitigation guidelines.
To harmonize and strengthen national practices, the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses
of Outer Space (UNCOPOUS) asked the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee
(IADC) to develop international guidelines that were adopted by COPUOS in 2007 and endorsed
by the UN General Assembly. The vague language still lets each space user and state decide how
many design and operational changes are reasonable to limit debris production, minimize breakup
potential, reduce the probability of accidental collision, and avoid intentional destruction,
especially in ways that produce long-lived debris. Since compliance with the guidelines is
voluntary, it also remains weak. For example, only 11 of 21 GEO spacecraft that ended their
service life in 2009 were disposed of properly.15


Nancy Gallagher
Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, University of Maryland

1The Obama Administration has undertaken several different, but overlapping, space policy reviews. The National  Security Council directed an interagency review of U.S. national space policy, the Department of Defense conducted  a congressionally mandated Space Posture Review, and the National Security Space Strategy is being updated to  improve coordination between military and intelligence space programs. The National Space Policy was released on  28 June 2010, see National Space Policy of the United States of America,
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/national_space_policy_6-28-10.pdf (accessed September 2010).
2Deputy Secretary of Defense, William J. Lynn, “Remarks at the National Space Symposium,” 14 April 2010, Colorado Springs, Colorado, http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1448 (accessed July 2010).
3Remarks by Ambassador Laura E. Kennedy to the UNIDIR Space Security Conference, 29 March 2010, Geneva, Switzerland, http://geneva.usmission.gov/2010/03/29/ambassador-kennedy-space-policy-review (accessed July 2010).
4George Jahn, “U.S. agrees to announce missile launches,” Associated Press, 20 May 2010.
5The Obama Administration has continued a policy adopted by the Bush Administration in 2007 of agreeing to let  the Conference on Disarmament establish an ad-hoc working group to discuss, but not negotiate, cooperative steps  to enhance space security. No formal work has occurred on this agenda item, though, because Pakistan has been   blocking consensus on a program of work, because it objects to another item on the CD agenda: negotiations on a treaty to prohibit production of new fissile material without reductions in existing stocks (Fissile Material Cutoff  Treaty). The most common recommendation to get the CD functioning again is to relax the interpretation of the consensus rule so that no one country can block negotiations indefinitely, but some countries who want to start the
Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations do not want to relinquish the right to block negotiations on other longstanding  topics on the CD’s agenda. The United States could expect that other nuclear weapon states, and many nonnuclear  allies, would also oppose negotiations on a near-term convention to eliminate nuclear weapons, but it could  be the only CD member opposed to starting negotiations about additional legal measures to protect satellites and  prevent space weaponization.
6This historical sequence is covered in Nancy Gallagher and John Steinbruner, Reconsidering the Rules for Space  Security, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, April 2008,
http://www.amacad.org/publications/reconsidering.aspx (accessed July 2010).
7J.I. Gabrynowicz, “The ‘Province’ and ‘Heritage’ of Mankind Reconsidered: A New Beginning,” The Second Conference on Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century, Proceedings from a conference held in  Houston, Texas, 5-7 April 1988. Edited by W.W. Mendell, NASA Conference Publication 3166, 1992, p. 691.
8The analogy Hardin used to illustrate the need for collective action involved English villagers grazing too many  cattle on a common pasture. See Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Science, 162 (1968): 1243-1248.
9Christopher C. Joyner, “Global Commons: The Oceans, Antarctica, the Atmosphere, and Outer Space,” pp. 354-391, in P.J. Simmons and Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, eds., Managing Global Issues (Washington, DC: Carnegie  Endowment for International Peace, 2001.)
10Jessica West, ed., Space Security 2009, SPACESECURITY.org, p. 40.
11See Theresa Hitchens, Future Security in Space (Washington, DC: Center for Defense Information, 2004), pp. 39- 52; and Gerry Oberst, “Efficient Use of Satellites – Part 2,” Via Satellite, 1 May 2010.
12Brian Weeden, “The Numbers Game: What’s in Earth’s Orbit and How do We Know?” The Space Review, 13 July  2009, pp. 2-3.
13The most noteworthy recent debris-generating events have been the February 2009 collision between an active  Iridium communications satellite and a defunct Russian satellite, and China’s January 2007 ASAT test. Jessica  West, ed., Space Security 2009, pp. 26-33 summarizes debris-generating events and mitigation efforts in the past  several decades.
14U.S. National Research Council, Orbital Debris: A Technical Assessment (1995), p. 4.
15Brian Weeden, “Dealing with Galaxy 15: Zombiesats and on-orbit servicing,” The Space Review, 24 May 2010, Part I, p. 8.




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