Trash day (6/13/23)
Happy Tuesday from NYC. I’m so excited for my keynote discussion this afternoon at the Secure World Foundation’s Summit for Space Sustainability, which will delve into more details on the new orbital debris framework I’ve written about below!
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Clean Up, Clean Up, Everybody Everywhere
Illustration of space debris around Earth. Credit: NASA
The World Economic Forum and ESA joined forces to draft a new set of orbital debris mitigation recommendations, which were released today. The four-page guideline already has support from more than two dozen industry players, including Airbus, Planet, Astroscale, and SES.
“Space is critical for our modern way of life,” the document says. “We therefore need to protect this domain for the benefit of all humankind.”
The bottom line: The document sets four “ambitious yet sensible” targets for industry that will boost sustainability in orbit.
Operators should deorbit satellites within five years of their end date starting with missions that begin in 2023.
Satellites should be able to maneuver in orbit, preferably by having propulsion systems onboard.
Companies should share STM data openly and quickly with other operators to avoid collisions.
Liability insurance providers should offer incentives for sustainable missions, using metrics like Space Sustainability Rating.
Further out: The document also makes some longer-term recommendations to be tackled at a higher-level than individual companies. The document urges officials to study the environmental capacity of space, or the number of active and defunct missions that can co-exist in orbit while maintaining a stable environment.
It calls for governments to try “leading by example,” including by setting a five-year deorbit requirement for equipment in orbit, investing in capabilities such as active debris removal and space situational awareness, and incentivizing data sharing and coordination.
The document also hints at the “new business opportunities” and “entire markets” that could spring up when companies implement more sustainable practices, including wrestling unresponsive satellites out of orbit.
The signatories: The guidelines have support from 27 companies already, including some that are planning major constellations, such as OneWeb, and others more focused on moving assets around in space, such as Astroscale and D-Orbit.
But some major space players planning huge constellations, including SpaceX’s Starlink, are absent from the agreement.
Why the WEF: The organization, which is best known for its annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, may not seem like the obvious choice to tackle the problem of space debris, but the forum has been delving into space more over the past few years toward its broader goal of “improving the state of the world.”
The forum released a two-page concept paper in April 2022 calling for the creation of a Space Sustainability Monitor to track how nations implement sustainability best practices and voluntary guidelines. The forum also led the charge to develop a “space sustainability rating” system to certify which missions are operating sustainably, the same way a building might boast a LEED certification to showcase environmental efforts.
Deterrence by Observation: How Commercial Satellites Galvanize a New Era of Geospatial Intelligence
Why should government agencies keep up with the commercial space race? Between 2006 and 2022, the number of commercial Earth Observation satellites in orbit increased from 11 to nearly 600.
Planet is uniquely positioned to empower government’s geospatial intelligence services to keep pace with technological advances in space.
From battling misinformation to improving decision-making on the battlefield, we’re helping to improve transparency and create a new era of geospatial intelligence.
Planet’s new whitepaper, Deterrence By Observation, dives into:
How and why the commercial satellite industry has grown so rapidly
What makes Planet’s agile aerospace methodology highly resilient and reliable
Planet’s role in making the war in Ukraine the most digitally documented invasion in history
How daily imagery can be used to automatically detect changes in land cover, road and building construction, and vessel and aircraft location
Why Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and private-public collaboration is essential
Read the White Paper to get the full story.
Library of Cosmos
Reps. Max Miller (R-OH) and Salud Carbajal (D-CA) previewed plans for forthcoming legislation at our DC event last week (via Payload).
More than a dozen GOP members introduced a bill Friday to spin off NOAA as an independent agency (via Payload).
A draft portion of the House NDAA includes language to create a Space National Guard, though it’s unclear if the proposal will survive next week’s full committee markup.
The HASC Strategic Forces Subcommittee also released its section of the NDAA on Monday.
The Space Command HQ fight rages on, with the Alabama state lawmakers passing a resolution affirming that Huntsville is the best spot for the command.
See you tomorrow!
The commercial earth observation (EO) market we know today was born from defense. Space-based EO data provides the analysts and the war fighters with an information advantage. Now, commercial companies are at the forefront of defense applications.
Geopolitical analysts tie together multiple data sets to see action in their domain and make strategic decisions. This webinar will dive into how multiple data modalities - RF, SAR, imagery, & hyperspectral - impact defense use cases. We will also dive into usability. Many defense clients simply use raw data. But for others, and increasingly for the commercial market, we need to ask: how can we make EO data more usable from a platform, analytics, and service model perspective?
Tweet of the week
If @JoeBiden reverses the @US_SpaceCom decision, it will be Washington at its worst.
If having pro-life laws disqualifies states from hosting a military base, then military-heavy states like Texas, Florida, and Nebraska will soon find themselves being treated like Alabama.
— Coach Tommy Tuberville (@SenTuberville)
Jun 11, 2023