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UN to hold discussion on the peaceful uses of outer space

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UN to hold discussion on the peaceful uses of outer space

space debris
Photo: NASA

The UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) will discuss the peaceful exploration and expropriation of space resources today.

The session will review the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities, which aims to tackle the issue of space junk. There is an estimated 9,000 tons of waste material in low-Earth orbit and the potential effects of a collision are disastrous, demonstrated by the loss of China’s Yunhai 1-02.

Expect the working group to examine technological innovations using a wider array of radio frequencies and orbital slots necessary to establish a collaborative space tracking and avoidance system. Despite the growing severity of this problem, international cooperation on space debris management has been lacking due to absence of transparency regarding locations of spy-satellites and disagreement among diplomats on international rules.

Furthermore, space exploration is increasingly characterized by deep rivalries between US and China’s competing space programs. This is exhibited by the US’ banning of Sino-American space cooperation since 2011, with China responding by establishing its own Tiangong space station this April.  Therefore, expect UN sanctioned international cooperation in space debris management to be limited owing to the antagonistic relationship between China and the US.

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