In a ground-breaking move to safeguard the space environment, 26 leading aerospace companies have joined forces in a resolute stand against destructive ASAT tests. Spearheaded by influential entities like Axiom Space and Planet, this coalition aims to reinforce global commitments to responsible space practices, highlighting the far-reaching consequences of these perilous tests.
(Image credit: Hugh Lewis/University of Southampton)
The campaign gained impetus in April 2022 when the United States, a trailblazer in this initiative, vowed to abstain from direct-ascent ASAT tests. These tests, involving the launch of missiles targeting defunct satellites, pose a substantial threat to ongoing space exploration initiatives. Such endeavours generate persistent orbital debris, jeopardizing national assets, commercial spacecraft, and human spaceflight platforms.
The joint statement emphasizes the long-lasting implications of ASAT tests, which extend beyond immediate threats to encompass increased costs, uncertainties for investors, and potential disruptions to vital space-based services. With more than 9,300 tons of space objects currently orbiting Earth, responsible space practices are imperative to mitigate the risks associated with space debris.
The United States, championing this cause, introduced a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2022, garnering support from 37 nations, including major players in the space arena. Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom are among the nations actively endorsing this international commitment.
The tangible dangers of ASAT tests were underscored by the Russian ASAT trial in November 2021, during which LeoLabs tracked approximately 1,800 catalogued fragments. This united industry stance aims not only to condemn such actions but also to foster responsible space practices globally. Beyond immediate concerns, this coalition envisions a sustainable and secure space environment that promotes innovation, collaboration, and the continued expansion of human activities in the cosmos.
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