More than 100 million pieces of debris from satellites and spacecraft’s orbit earth. This space debris can travel at speeds of up to 17,500 mph, fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft. 3.2 billion private citizens on earth rely on broadband and internet that comes from satellites. More importantly, however, the rising population of space debris over the past few decades increases the potential danger to all space vehicles, but especially to the International Space Station, space shuttles and other spacecraft with humans aboard.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has been discussing possible solutions and have formulated two proposed draft resolutions.
Countries such as the Russia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Republic of Korea have come together to propose an emphasis on the creation of a database which will track and monitor all space objects, known as Draft Resolution 1.1: Black-Blue. This will also create a forum for space agents that will meet every 3 months where a representative of every country will negotiate and communicate the location, size, and distribution of their country’s space objects. The UNOOSA will monitor the database for collision threats and store information about these objects, which allows them to not only track past and present satellites and attacks, but also being able to more easily predict collisions. Part of this plan will also include the development of space programs in undeveloped nations., in which developed nations will provide expertise, training, research, and funding to these undeveloped nations. Funding for this committee will come from a proportional based fund, which will be dependent on the countries with space programs to fund based on the amount of satellites they have put into space through percentages of GDPs.
On the other side of debate lays a similar plan, Draft Resolution 1.2: Rainbow, for cleaning up the space junk, but with some differences. When asked what the main plan of attack for their resolution paper, the United States responded that, “we call for the creation of Committee of Space Objects (CSO) for specific management of the space debris environment, as well as the shared funding according to space launches frequency.”
This committee will function as a subsidiary committee under the UNOOSA to allow member states of UNOOSA to efficiently manage and legislate on matter concerning operational interstellar spacecraft’s and practices. A research panel will be created under the CSO to study the effects of space debris of the space environment by providing scholarships for students from all nations in order to inspire the next generation of astronomers. This fund will be led by the United Kingdom, United States, and Japan.
The largest discrepancy between both resolutions is funding. Draft Resolution 1.2 calls for the initiation of an annual fund, provided by governments with establish aerospace research programs. All countries in UNOOSA will hold a vote at the beginning of the calendar year, and set the percentage of the tax for the year by setting the minimum tax rate at 2%. 32.5% of all funds will go to groups with projects in place, such as the Surrey Space Centre in the United Kingdom and the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, and another 32.5% will be saved and distributed as research grants for future technological development.
The committee votes later this afternoon to determine a solution for clean up.