Good stewardship

Here is a brief overview of the nine guidelines approved by the U.N. Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities in February.

The guidelines say that nations and international intergovernmental organizations should:

• Register with the U.N. in a timely manner anything sent into orbit and update the registry when a spacecraft changes orbit, stops working or ejects anything, including small satellites or service modules.

• Exchange updated contact information on organizations authorized to exchange information on spacecraft operations, conjunction assessments and to respond to incident reports and forecasts.

• Find ways to more precisely determine the orbit of space objects and perform conjunction assessments for each spacecraft’s current and planned trajectories. Spacecraft operators who are unable to perform conjunction assessments should seek support from state authorities who can assist them.

• Conduct pre-launch conjunction assessments to ensure their spacecraft do not collide with anything during launch.

• Promote and facilitate international cooperation aimed at helping emerging spacefaring countries implement the U.N. guidelines.
• Share expertise and information related to the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

• Ensure that even very small spacecraft include features that make them easy to track in orbit. Nations and international governmental organizations should encourage spacecraft manufacturers and operators to adhere to national and international space debris mitigation standards.

• Take measures to address risks associated with the uncontrolled re-entry of space objects.

• Take precautions to ensure that laser beams sent through space near Earth do not interfere with other space activities.

The complete guidelines are posted at the website of the U.N. Office of Outer Space Affairs.

Good stewardship