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U.S. Statement – Agenda Item 11 – Long Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities – 61st STSC
As Prepared for U.S. Representative Ryan Guglietta Vienna, Austria, February 2nd, 2024
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February 5, 2024

U.S. Statement as Prepared for U.S. Representative Ryan Guglietta
Agenda Item 11 – Long Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities
Vienna, Austria, February 2nd, 2024

 

Chair, the United States welcomes the chance to present its views under this agenda item. Ensuring the long-term sustainability of space is vital so that all nations may continue to benefit from space for climate, Earth observation, disaster management, sustainable development and so much more.

This Committee has made great strides in advancing the long-term sustainability of outer space through fostering a constructive dialogue on how the international community can work together to achieve this goal. The United States is committed to furthering these efforts and we are assessing our own policy and regulatory frameworks to ensure that we are safe and responsible space actors. In December, the National Space Council released the “United States Novel Space Activities Authorization and Supervision Framework,” which aims to better prepare the U.S. government to shape the future space regulatory environment.  We invite you to a Technical Presentation on the framework on Monday, February 5 during the afternoon session.  The concept of outer space sustainability is a prominent and consistent thread throughout the Framework.

The United States also continues to be guided by the 2021 Space Priorities Framework, which notes that the United States will work with both international partners and U.S. industry to:

  • Demonstrate how the full range of governmental and private sector activities can be conducted in a responsible, peaceful, and sustainable manner; and
  • Lead in the development and implementation of open, transparent, and credible international standards, policies, and best practices that establish the foundation for global space traffic coordination.

Both the “Novel Space Activities Authorization and Supervision Framework” and the “Space Priorities Framework” build upon a long history of the United States promoting the safe, responsible, and sustainable use of outer space, and underscore our commitment to the milestone achievement by this Committee in adopting the 21 Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities in 2019. Under the capable leadership of Mr. Umamaheshwaran, the LTS 2.0 working group has made significant progress in advancing the three pillars of its workplan, but there is still much work to be done.

It has been heartening to see what so many delegations in this room have accomplished over the past several years to further these efforts, and the LTS 2.0 working group has been an indispensable forum to share those experiences. Dozens of countries have submitted implementation reporting to the Committee, and countless others have shared their experiences during the working group discussions. We submitted our own LTS implementation efforts last year, which proved to be an immeasurably useful exercise not just for sharing our experiences with the international community, but for motivating us to take a comprehensive inventory of both our own processes and initiatives within the United States government and private sector. This process helped us identify successes that may benefit others, as well as challenges that the experiences of others may help address.

We look forward to continuing these discussions this session including at the LTS Working Group workshop that will be held on February 6.  This workshop can help to highlight the contributions of the commercial sector as well as governments to implementation of the LTS guidelines. It also can identify opportunities for cooperation and capacity building in the development of domestic legal and regulatory frameworks, safety of space operations, and scientific and technological research.

As the working group advances in its mandate, we must ensure that we capture the useful discussions and information shared during its tenure. Cataloguing delegations’ implementation efforts, creating a compendium of topics for the consideration of possible new guidelines, and capacity-building initiatives is necessary to cement the legacy and relevance of the initial 21 guidelines and set the stage for any follow-on work. Wherever the work of LTS goes next, my delegation would urge increased consideration of capacity building efforts. These efforts should go beyond a general exchange of information and instead focused on hands-on, interactive discussions and demonstrations of tools and resources to aid emerging spacefaring nations as they grow their own space capabilities. Capacity building is a foundational aspect of this Committee’s work, and the United States is eager to find ways to bolster these efforts.

Other progress by the United States relating to space sustainability since the previous STSC session includes:

  • Continued development by the U.S. Department of Commerce of the Traffic Coordination System for Space (TraCSS) to provide basic space situational awareness (SSA) data and services to civil and private space operators and to support spaceflight safety, space sustainability, and international coordination.
  • The upcoming establishment of a U.S. public-facing online space object registry
  • Expanded government-commercial and international partnerships to increase communications, exchange SSA data and analyses, and establish best practices for autonomous spacecraft collision avoidance;
  • The release of the State Department’s first-ever Strategic Framework for Space Diplomacy, which created a Department-wide approach to U.S. space policy and promotes awareness of space activities.
  • The U.S. Federal Communications Commission continuing to address space sustainability as part of its licensing process, including for large satellite constellations.  This includes conditioning satellite authorizations on compliance with orbital debris mitigation plans, and requiring operators to share information with other operators to facilitate space traffic coordination.
  • The FCC’s process includes enforceable obligations, and this past year resulted in an enforcement action against a U.S. geostationary satellite operator that did not dispose of its satellite consistent with international guidelines.

My delegation looks forward to working both domestically and internationally to preserve the outer space environment for current and future generations and we continue to underscore the importance of the UNCOPUOS forum, and specifically this subcommittee, in this endeavor. Thank you, Chair.

U.S. Statement – Agenda Item 11 – Long Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities – 61st Session of the STSC of COPUOS