U.S. Statement as Prepared for U.S. Representative Dr. Ryan Guglietta
Agenda Item 12 – Long Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities
Vienna, Austria, February 15, 2023
Chair, the United States welcomes the chance to present its views under this agenda item.
As the United States Space Priorities Framework notes, the United States remains committed to engaging the international community to uphold and strengthen a rules-based international order for space. Working with both international partners and American industry, the United States will:
- Continue 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.
The Space Priorities Framework builds upon a long history of the United States promoting the safe, responsible, and sustainable use of outer space, and underscores 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 new LTS 2.0 working group has adopted its workplan, terms of reference, and methods of work, and has already begun the critical work of reinforcing the importance and implementation of the 21 guidelines.
Over the past year, the United States has compiled information on our efforts to implement the LTS guidelines and we have focused our submission on providing a comprehensive set of inputs to reflect the full range of government and non- government space activities. This was done in two parts. First, we solicited input on practices and procedures relevant to the LTS guidelines from U.S. government departments and agencies involved in the launch, licensing, procurement, regulation, or operation of space objects. In parallel to this process, we released a public solicitation requesting information from the U.S. private sector on how they are voluntarily implementing the LTS guidelines and were pleased to receive responses from a diverse group of space actors, including legacy space companies, smaller start-ups, academic institutions, and additional non- governmental organizations. This approach underscores the United States’ firm belief that nations must work with all aspects of their space sectors to help ensure the responsible and safe use of outer space.
The United States compiled these inputs into a submission that highlights government and private sector initiatives to promote the safe and responsible use of outer space through the voluntary implementation of the 21 LTS guidelines, and we encourage delegations to review both the summary of our approach as well as a comprehensive inventory of U.S. domestic efforts in A/AC.105/C.1/L4.09/Add.1 and A/AC.105/C.1/2023/CRP.22, respectively. It is important to note that the second submission is not the final report on the United States’ LTS efforts. Rather, this is the first of many inventories of the United States’ own sustainability efforts and a recognition that as implementation continues, there may be new challenges identified and additional best practices developed in response.
We would also like to thank the Secretariat and the LTS Chair for arranging an LTS intersessional meeting in November 2022. We appreciated the opportunity to share our implementation experiences, as well as our thoughts on capacity building and potential new guidelines with other delegations, and welcomed the opportunity to hear their own thoughts on, and experiences with, these issues. While there were a number of delegations that embraced this opportunity, several, including active spacefaring nations, remained largely silent throughout much of the discussion. We would therefore urge all members of this subcommittee to actively and constructively engage in this open and inclusive LTS Working Group thereby contributing to the framework for the global governance of space activities, consistent with international law.
Other progress by the United States relating to space sustainability since the previous STSC session includes:
- Continued improvements to U.S. Government and commercial space situational awareness capabilities to detect, track, and identify both active space objects and debris;
- Increased timeliness of U.S. registration of space objects with the UN Secretary-General;
- Expanded government-commercial partnerships to increase communications, exchange data, and establish best practices for autonomous spacecraft collision avoidance;
- The release of the Orbital Debris Research and Development Implementation Plan; and
- Co-sponsored a work item proposal in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) on space traffic coordination.
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.