Star Wars Clean Up

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.

 

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Bloc party in Outer Space

Delegates in the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs have already had a busy day full of compromise and collaboration. Yesterday, delegates worked to form six separate working papers, titled by color names, in order to reach a solution to the problem of space debris. Today, the main focus of committee was joining forces and merging these working papers. The delegation representing the Republic of Korea described the merging process as “insane.”

The first groups to merge were Red and Green, followed by Orange and Yellow and Black and Blue. Finally, the Red/Green paper combined with Orange/Yellow to form the Rainbow paper, while the Black/Blue paper stood on its own. “It’s been really difficult [to merge papers] because every country essentially has similar ideas, but it is hard for people to compromise and change their own writing to include new information from other countries,” noted the delegate representing the Republic of Korea.

At first glance, the Black and Blue paper, (Draft Resolution 1.1) and the Rainbow paper (Draft Resolution 1.2) look very similar. The Black and Blue paper focuses on a four-pronged approach of standardization, transparency, enforcement, and prevention, which is stated in Clause 2 of their draft resolution, while the Rainbow paper focuses on pursuit, protection and prevention.

However, the devil is in the details. “The divisive issue between the two blocs is funding and taxation,” explained the delegate representing Portugal. “I guess Black and Blue just don’t want to join the rainbow,” added the delegate representing Japan.

Space Crisis

The United Nations Office on Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) was surprised by a crises this morning. The acclaimed Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson asked for the committee help on a video, informing that the satellite USA-266 (lunched just under a year ago) is in a collision course and out of control with partner USA-248, lunched two years ago. Dr. deGrasse Tyson urged the committee about issues, highlighting the fact that “without a full constellation of active GPS satellites, services in almost every related sector are lost”.

As GPS boosts our productivities and make the people lives more connected and practical, US Air Force, NASA and privates enterprises are doing everything they can to save and protect this technology, tough the collision is almost certain and is just a matter of time. there are 31 GPS satellites in the Medium-Earth Orbit, around 20,000 kilometers up and it is only needed 24 of them operating to have full Global Positioning System. The collision would be life changing.

UNOOSA seemed worried about the crises. However, as it was said by the delegate of Democratic Republic of Congo, the resolutions and working papers were all almost complete and satisfactory for the situation. “A couple more clauses should be enough for us to solve the issue”, he said.

Including the satellites problem, the resolutions are trying to define terms like “space objects”, develop and systematize taxes for Debris cleanup, advance in the scientific divulgation of the topic, standardized the dispatch of space objects.

A Star Studded Crisis

In the unglamorous world of space garbage removal, an inspiring and exciting face reported dire news to the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). Astrophysicist and science icon Neil deGrasse Tyson told the committee of their latest crisis: that United States satellite USA-266 had been disconnected from communication by unknown causes and was on a direct collision course with partner satellite USA-248. This rogue satellite could prove disastrous if it indeed collided with USA-248 as it would take out a key satellite needed for the collection of critical GPS information that affects nearly every facet of the general population’s lives. “GPS boosts productivity across industries, from agriculture and construction to mining and surveying. It saves lives by preventing air traffic collisions, speeds the delivery of emergency services and disaster relief” Tyson reminded the committee via video, setting a somber mood within the group.

The committee, which had succeeded in merging a large number of similar working papers into two distinct blocs, was forced to revise the papers to address the problem of space debris at the mid-level orbit. “It is clear we have been addressing the wrong level of orbit” a delegate from Japan asserted during moderated caucus, adding that his bloc would be “immediately integrating” solutions to the crisis into their working paper as well as provisions to prevent further mid-level debris disasters. A delegate from Brazil passionately argued for the “need for an emergency response system” and delegates from Somalia “urged nations to work together”.

When interviewed about their respective position papers, representatives from Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo were happy to point out the major points of their papers and their respective strengths. The new “Rainbow Coalition” composed of former red, green, orange, and yellow draft resolutions explained that their primary goal when crafting their resolution was including all nations, large and small, and space programs of all size. They explained the role that smaller nations would play by providing labor, research, and tech development with larger nations contributing more monetary funding. Brazil also explained that their resolution focused on investment of new technology and the limiting the activity of space launches to reduce future space debris and a potential emergency response program to prepare citizens should space debris exit near orbit and enter the Earth’s atmosphere with the possibility of colliding with the earth. Such precautions would minimize human loss of life in the event of a crisis.

The Black and Blue block explained that while their bloc had many similar ideas to that of the Rainbow Coalition, the main problem they had with the Coalition’s draft resolution was their dependence on donations from participating countries. The bloc also disagreed with the Rainbow Coalitions formation of a sub-committee within the bloc. The representative from the Democratic Republic of the Congo explained the bloc’s STEP program. The acronym described the four step plan composed of: standardization of data concerning tracking and monitoring in the form of an accessible database by all participating countries, transparency on the part of all countries regarding the number and positions of satellites, enforcement of all rules and suggestions by holding countries accountable for the space debris they collect and fail to remove, and prevention of future crises by creating guidelines that while not mandatory, would be heavily recommended. The delegate from Congo expressed the blocs to foster space development and exploration while limiting launching only what really needed to enter either near or mid earth orbit. The delegate cited the fact that 30% of space junk originated from useless parts of a launch, for example launch pads that don’t need to leave the ground and could be minimize space debris.

Throughout the crisis the delegation seemed unsure what to focus on: the fact that Neil deGrasse Tyson delivered them a personalized (if dire) message, or the impending crisis that the world and communication system could be facing. With their eyes set on perfecting draft resolutions and passing the best one available to the committee, the group is sure to maintain their focus as they reach the homestretch of their drafting and debating.

The Great Space (Debris) Debate

In the exciting world of space garbage, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has been engaged in intense debate regarding the control and mitigation of so called “space debris”. Delegates have discussed how to remove space debris and fund space programs in depth because they fear the threat to operatives satellites. The committee moved quickly through the process of forming blocs and writing draft resolutions, presenting 6 comprehensive solutions to solving the problem involving space debris. Delegates discussed all resolutions at length through question and answer periods with the intention of merging similar draft resolutions. While not final, it is expected that the “Orange”, “Yellow”, and “Blue” resolutions will merge to form one resolution that will encompass the needs of a variety of countries and provide effective solutions to the multitude of presented problems. Additional draft resolutions “Red”, “Purple”, “Black”, and “Green” were still discussing the most effective way to merge or if they would merge at all.

A delegate from the Democratic Republic of Congo pointed out that the primary points of difference and controversy concerned “balancing the needs of developing nations with those of developed nations”, especially when it came to funding. With the removal of space debris expected to be very expensive, the debate remains as to whether countries should pay to fund space debris removal regardless of their size and extent of development or if more developed nations with more extensive space programs should pay a larger share of the money needed.

With such extensive resolutions, the process of merging these papers will prove to be just as much of a challenge as creating the original resolutions. “We all have such complicated resolutions that it’s difficult to find a way of include everyone’s voices” cited a delegate of France, also referencing the increased difficulty of adapting to the needs of both small and large countries. Many delegates noted the universal consequences and dangers of space debris and cited that as a reason for all countries, regardless of size or level of development, to contribute to the removal projects. Other delegates advocated for the fact that these more advanced countries with larger and more heavily funded space programs put in a much higher number of satellites that eventually become space debris when they are abandoned or when they become nonfunctional. Delegates also worked and argued for the advancement of all space programs: especially those that are undeveloped compared to space powerhouses like the US and Brazil. These desires to encourage space advancement in underdeveloped countries were integrated into the funding debate with potential incentives and rewards offered to smaller programs who contribute money or resources (including labor contributions) to the project of debris removal in the form of aid in developing their respective space programs.

With focused delegates eager to find a solution that works for all represented countries at the UN, and equally as eager to address their topic A regarding space “Security and Weaponism”, it is expected that delegates will work with diligence to finalize their draft resolutions and submit them for voting in the near future.

Climate Change in Outer Space?

With some of this generation’s best problem solvers under one roof, there is only one challenge that cannot be solved: the extreme temperatures on the fifth floor of the Sheraton Hotel, home to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. Delegates in UNOOSA are hard at work trying to resolve the issue of debris in space by merging several of the existing working papers, but the constant change in temperature is throwing many delegates off. Delegates recount being “ice cold” one minute, and “actively sweating” the next. “The extreme temperatures have made it incredibly difficult to concentrate,” noted the delegation of South Korea. “The only safe-zone is underneath the air vent in the back of the room. Otherwise, it’s either Antarctica or the Sahara Desert: there is no in between.”

It wasn’t just the delegates that noticed the shifting climate, either. “In our Chair’s defense, she has really tried to help us with the temperature,” added the delegate representing South Korea. “ . . .we were even given power over our own thermostat, but none of our efforts are paying off.” A reporter from Al-Baghdadia, who had spent a while in this room doing research, validated the rumor. “From personal experience, I can confirm that the temperature has been fluctuating quite a bit.”

Hopefully the temperature will reach a resting point, and the delegates of UNOOSA can get back to the hard work they have been putting in all day – the future of outer space may depend on it.

Welcome to HMUN 2017!

The Press Corps Staff welcomes you to HMUN 2017.