Space travel Code of Conduct aims to limit junk in orbit

Decades of space travel activities have the Earth’s orbit littered with space junk. As the world’s nations continue activity in space, the space junk pile increases and along with it the chances of a deadly collision. Now, the United States and other nations are doing something about it.

“Space is no longer an environment accessed nearly exclusively by two superpowers or a few countries. Barriers to entry are lower than ever, and many countries are enjoying access to, and the benefits of, space in unprecedented numbers,” said Frank A. Rose, the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance in a speech at the 15th annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference last week.

The U.S. Department of Defense tracks about 22,000 objects in orbit, only 1,100 of which are active satellites. The rest are things like dead satellites, spent booster rockets or orbiting debris. Experts are concerned that the man-made debris increases the odds of future damaging collisions, a situation that will only worsen as more nations explore space travel.To reduce this risk to future satellite operations and space travelers, the United States has joined the European Union calling for a uniform code of conduct that reduces the risk of further debris-generating events, reducing the need to maneuver around debris, expending precious fuel.

“I believe that 2012 will be a defining year for space security, and the work we all will do in responding to the challenges in, and the threats to, the space environment can help us preserve space for all nations and future generations,” said Rose. “We look forward to partnering with the commercial space transportation industry in this effort.”

Flickr photo by AsylumSeaker