Michael Krepon’s Commentary [“A Rare Opportunity for Space Diplomacy,” Oct. 5, page 19] was well-timed, especially since it was followed by the unexpected Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama. There is indeed a rare opportunity, now enhanced by the president’s international standing. The Space Policy Review — currently being conducted by the Administration under the direction of the National Security Council — provides that opportunity and one hopes the new policy will change the assertive “freedom of action” tone of the current one.
Krepon cited non-interference, space debris, space traffic management and anti-satellites as issues to address. I would like to add two others that have the virtue of being proactive instead of reactive: planetary defense and global climate change. In both cases, the urgent need is for more observations to gather scientific data. Starting to deal now with the non-controversial aspects, such as gathering additional data furthering scientific understanding, may help later with the controversial aspects of taking mitigating actions.
We need more international coordination and attention to global climate change and planetary defense. Engaging other nations is now an opportunity that can be enhanced by an enlightened space policy.