Reconsidering the Rules of Space
This study examined the global security implications of expanding commercial and military uses of space, and considered international rules and principles needed to maintain a balanced use of space over the long term.
Societies rely increasingly on satellites for vital communication services, environmental monitoring, navigation, weather prediction, and scientific research. This largely beneficial trend is expected to intensify as more countries develop satellite technology and utilize the services derived from it.
These technological trends have also inspired the development of military capabilities in space that go far beyond the traditional intelligence and early warning missions of the Cold War period. Protecting and enhancing U.S. military capability in space has emerged as an important focus of military planning. Recent official documents have proposed, for example, various anti-satellite and space-based weapons to protect and augment U.S. capabilities in space. Serious public discussion of military space plans has not yet occurred in the United States, though important questions of policy, planning and budgeting loom.
The development of space affects a range of government, commercial, and scientific interests around the world, and U.S. leaders have yet to propose a policy framework that adequately balances these interests. The American Academy initiated the Reconsidering the Rules of Space project to examine the implications of U.S. policy in space, and to consider the international rules and principles needed to maintain a balanced use of space over the long term.
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The project has facilitated discussions between international security experts and leading stakeholders in both commercial development and scientific advancement in space. The project has published a series of papers, intended to help inform public discussion and to induce a further examination of U.S. official policies. These papers consider the implications of physics for space security; the interaction of military, scientific, and commercial activities in space; Chinese and Russian perspectives on U.S. space plans; and the possible elements of a more comprehensive set of rules for space security.
The project was featured on NPR’s Science Friday and in an editorial in The Boston Globe and project members participated in a Congressional briefing.