Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Russia’s attack on its own satellite is reckless and in danger for all of us

Earlier this week, astronauts aboard the International Space Station rushed to seek refuge. The near-clearance was not caused by an unexpected space weather event or the millions of pieces of existing space objects and rocket launchers left there since the beginning of the space age.

Read more: Russian anti-satellite weapons test: what happened and what are the risks?

Astronauts’ lives were temporarily threatened by a cloud of orbital debris – space junk – created by Russia testing anti-satellite (ASAT) capabilities.

What is not temporary is the danger that space debris will build up to the thousands of other working satellites that are the backbone of modern economies and societies.

Russia blew up one of its own inactive satellites, and in the process, created more than 1,500 pieces of trackable debris that will remain in orbit well into the 2040s. It is not clear how many pieces of debris have been broken up which have not been traced.

rubble and slander

For decades, major space-enthusiast countries have tested a variety of weapons capable of destroying space objects and launching attacks on Earth from space. The latest kinetic weapon test has not only created debris in space, but also sent shock waves across the globe.

Stray and unneeded debris travels many times faster than a bullet, and can easily disable or destroy the satellites we depend on for basic but vital activities. Satellites facilitate banking transactions, land and ocean management, search and rescue operations and weather monitoring, among other things.

Read more: We need new treaties to address the growing problem of space debris

Describing the action as “reckless and irresponsible”, the United States issued a statement declaring that debris created by the latest weapons tests in space “will endanger space objects that will protect the security of all nations for decades to come.” are important for economic and scientific interests.”

The NATO Secretary General also expressed that this “reckless act” would pose a threat to civilian activities and “critical space capabilities for basic infrastructure such as communications on Earth, such as navigation, or early warning of missile launches.”

Condemnation of this single incident echoed in France, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

Various space industry associations and businesses have expressed concern about Russia’s latest act. These concerns are limited not only to the increased risk of multimillion-dollar space assets, but also to the cost of operating the satellites to avoid potential collisions with new debris created by the Russian ASAT.

A more troubling possibility is that other countries may be encouraged to follow suit and conduct similar weapons tests in space, fueling rising geopolitical tensions and accelerating the arms race in space.

space is not a vacuum

Space activities are subject to extensive laws and regulations. In 1958, it was universally agreed that all nations have a “common interest” in outer space, and that space should be used for “peaceful purposes”.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, one of the most widely accepted international instruments, obliges governments to conduct space activities “for the benefit and interests of all nations” and in relation to the space activities of other countries. Although not expressly prohibited, destructive acts in space can have a global impact and are contrary to established principles of international law.

Despite the latest weapons testing, initiatives are underway to protect the safety, security and stability of outer space. For more than three decades, the United Nations has called on nations every year to stop the arms race in outer space.

Read more: We’re preparing the legal guide to war in space. Hopefully we’ll never have to use it again

Together with China, Russia itself has been an active supporter of a binding treaty outlawing the use of force against space objects. Had this treaty been adopted, it would have prohibited the kind of act that had just been committed.

Civil society initiatives to clarify the law that apply to military activities in outer space are ongoing.

A letter – commissioned by the Vancouver-based Outer Space Institute and signed by academics, policy makers and legal experts – addressed to the president of the United Nations General Assembly urged the adoption of a treaty that would ban testing of anti-satellite weapons.

Actions speak louder than words

The space is widely recognized as the “ultimate high ground”, meaning it holds significant strategic and military value. The US, China and India, the major space-enthusiast nations, have also tested a variety of ASAT weapons and capabilities to destroy their respective objects in space.

Russia’s weapons test has been included in Global News.

Russia’s ASAT test is worrying because it could normalize unilateral action in space that jeopardizes the common interests of all nations. More worrisome is the fact that this may not be the last of its kind, given the often disparity between the condemnations and actions taken by governments.

However, space is also a common global shared that must be used by all in a responsible, safe and sustainable manner. Earlier this year, G7 leaders recognized that “our planet’s orbit is a fragile and valuable environment that is becoming increasingly congested” and that “all countries must act together” to keep it safe.

It is imperative that the international community unite to reduce tensions in outer space and immediately stop all reckless and irresponsible actions affecting present and future generations.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

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