Annual Space Security Index Report Released – Space Debris Still Tops the List

The Space Security Index 2017. Credit: Project Ploughshares.

It should not come as a surprise that space debris tops the list of issues in the 2017 edition of the Space Security Index.

According to the report “today the U.S. Department of Defense is using the Space Surveillance Network to track some 23,000 pieces of debris 10 centimeters in diameter or larger. Experts estimate that there are more than 500,000 objects with a diameter larger than one centimeter and several million that are smaller. As debris increases and outer space becomes more congested, the likelihood that space assets may collide with a piece of orbital debris or even with one another increases, making all spacecraft vulnerable, regardless of the nation or entity to which they belong.”

While Space Debris is an ongoing issue, there are many issues of concern.

This is the 14th edition of the report and according to the report “The heightened possibility of warfare in outer space is of particular concern”. Dr. Laura Grego of the Union of Concerned Scientists said that “space has for decades been adjacent to conflict,” but “current trends put space at the center.”

The report also states that China and the U.S. should work together to “create the tools to temper what could become a dangerous competition”.

In the reports press release it states the following rapid rapid changes taking place:

  • Private sector investment is transforming space launch and space services
  • Access to space-based data is accelerating around the world
  • There is a shift to a more aggressive use of outer space as a potential domain of warfare;
  • The U.S. Congress has expressed renewed interest in space-based missile defence.

And that in 2016, there were:

  • 1,459 active satellites
  • 70+ civil space programs
  • 85 orbital launch attempts by eight different states
  • 55+ state owners of satellites
  • 36 activations of the UN Charter on Space and Major Disasters
  • new space venture investments valued at $2.8-billion
  • global satellite industry revenues of $261-billion.

The report is divided into four themes;

  1. Condition and knowledge of the space environment
  2. Access to and use of space by various actors
  3. Security of space systems
  4. Outer space governance

Outer Space Treaty Anniversary Gift

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty “and to raise awareness of the advancing application of space technology, as well as the vulnerabilities of this unique environment, (the Space Security Index) partner organizations are offering a free download of Space Security Index 2017 until the end of October.”

The Security Index Podcast

In June I spoke Jessica West who is the Project Manager for the Space Security Index. Listen to the podcast below.


About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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