Consideration of right-of-way laws for space traffic by Space community

space traffic by Space community

The increasing number of satellites in orbit is in the lead in order to build formal “right of way” laws. Although there is no consent on what those laws should be and how they should be created.

Various close methods of satellites in recent years, in some cases intensified by conflicts or communications breakdowns between satellite operators. This demonstrates the absence of guidelines today and the want to use them as mega-constellations proliferate.

“For the right of way, the supervisory agenda is please do not crash your satellite, and really please do not crash it into somebody else,” says Ruth Stilwell. Ruth is the executive director of Aerospace Policy Solutions, and he mentions the above in a panel at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies, or AMOS, Conference on 16th September.

It is not likely, she says, there will be an “uber authority” controlling space traffic internationally and managing satellite maneuvers. The alternate is a self-organized network of satellite operators that decide upon criteria for verifying which satellite has the right of way.

There has now been some progress on this front with contracts between satellite operators. In March, the following sign a contract.

This is whereby SpaceX agrees to move its satellites should they come near to a NASA spacecraft.

“Bilateral contracts are required and difficult,” says Stilwell. The specifics of those contracts, while in operation between the operators, “does not generate a standard throughout the community. So we need –

  • Further visibility into a commitment
  • Need to reach that standard so we can self-organize.”

She makes a comparison of that to the self-organization in ordinary traffic. This is where people usually give way to the right when somebody approaches. But that may not work in a global setting, like an airport. This is where others are used to giving way to the left. “We have ideas of right of way, standards for security, however they are reliant on having enough data about each other,” she says.

That contains a realistic probability of what the other actors will do as well as an understanding about their –

  • Health
  • Ability
  • Capability

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