Diplomats and other experts see signs of progress at the United Nations on addressing space sustainability but caution it may will take many years before any sort of binding agreement emerges.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs is poised to assist the international community in tackling the challenges posed by an increasingly diverse set of actors launching and operating spacecraft.
An executive order by the White House April 6 seeks to establish international support for the U.S. position that space resources can be used by companies and organizations, and to head off alternative international legal regimes.
The approval of set of space sustainability guidelines by a United Nations committee has been widely endorsed by the global space community, even while questions remain on how those guidelines can be turned into more binding rules.
“We can put a satellite phone in the hands of folks who don’t know how to use it and it won’t make a hill of beans difference,” said Ken Flowers, Iridium Communications vice president government.