Space Security and Sustainable usage of Space
Increased use of space communication, particularly satellite communication in telecommunication, entertainment, imaging, navigation, weather forecasting, defense etc. have caused use of increased number of satellites. The growing number of satellites has added the problem of “space junk” or space debris though increasing probability of space collisions. Destructions of such satellites directly impact to the nation’s annual space budget and high capital loss to the commercial space communication providers. Damage to satellite operations also causes losses in its services. For satellites forecasting natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes, malfunction of these systems can put human life at risk on huge stakes. Recent event of such collision between a retired Russian communication satellite (Kosmos 2251) and U.S. owned cellular service provider satellite (Iridium 33) in year 2009 and malfunction of Galaxy 15 in April, 2010 have raised concerns over space security. The debris generated from the collision of Iridium 33 and Kosmos 2251 spread in orbit is risk to more collisions. Trackable space debris population has been increased significantly by 15.6% in recent years. All these together have attracted many governments and non-government organizations to enhance sustainability of outer space for all users. Present study is focused on how space security is compromised due to space debris and its consequences to variety of sectors. Development towards space situational awareness (SSA) is seen in many countries like United States, Canada, EU, France, Germany, China, India and Japan are all developing space surveillance capabilities for various purposes. Increased calls for more cooperative and collaborative approach to SSA are issued.
The Outer Space Treaty (OST) of 1967 requires that the exploration and use of outer space be conducted in the interest of all states and for the benefit of all mankind. As we all know, outer space is an internationalized common area beyond the national jurisdiction of individual states. Security in space must therefore be the common security of all states.
New approaches are needed to overcome the unfruitful dichotomy of interpreting “peaceful” through the minimalist understanding of “non-aggressive” or the maximalist notion of “non-military”. The interpretation and application of the peaceful purpose clause have to be further developed in light of the “interest of all mankind” clause in the Outer Space Treaty and the common heritage of mankind (CHOM) principle.
A central part of the analysis will also deal with the procedural and institutional implications of applying the CHOM principle with regard to security in outer space. Although the Outer Space Treaty does not explicitly apply the CHOM principle to outer space per se, the arguments of this analysis will demonstrate that the Treaty does indeed contain the principal elements of the CHOM principle, and thus can be considered to be a structural element of outer space law.
At the end, some potential solutions and recommendations to improve structural strength of commercial satellites in order to extend their life similar to military satellites are required which will protect against electromagnetic pulse radiation and against collision with micro-debris. Some sort of space traffic regulatory is required to control satellite traffic in populated orbits. For out of service satellites, commercial satellite companies required to boost their devices into “parking” orbits where they may stay for thousand years or de-orbit to Earth where they will burn up in atmosphere.
Based on the concept of an international legal community, the application of the CHOM principle of outer space law to the security field will lay the foundation for the substantial and procedural realization of the peaceful purpose clause, and for safeguarding the interests of the international community in the peaceful use of outer space. The analysis will focus in particular on the obligations of the space powers that follow from the CHOM principle with regard to new military uses of outer space as well as on the regulatory or norm-creating competence for the establishment of an international regime to safeguard the peaceful use of outer space.
Having not long ago emerged from the dangers of the Cold War, the international community must not allow the deployment of weapons in space, even for defensive purposes. Toward this end, negotiation of a multilateral Treaty on Common Security in Outer Space, on the basis of the far-sighted peaceful purposes principle already contained in the OST, and the creation of a corresponding implementing agency responsible for overseeing its faithful enactment, would ensure that outer space remains an area of peace and collaboration, and a common heritage of mankind.