This Years Space Security Index Has Been Released and Calls for Leadership

Left to right: Peter Martinez (Secure World Foundation), Rosemary McCarney (Canadian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva), Jessica West (Project Ploughshares), Theresa Hitchens (Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland), Jeroen Cooreman (Deputy Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN). Credit: Project Ploughshares.

Waterloo based Project Ploughshares, a Canadian peace-and-security think tank, has released Space Security Index 2018 which states security conditions in outer space are deteriorating and leadership is needed.

As with previous years, the report breaks down indicators, this time 18, into four focused areas; environmental sustainability, access to and use of space, technologies for space security, and space governance.

The full 244 report is freely available online as is a shorter Executive Summary.

Space Security Index 2018
Credit: Project Ploughshares.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Plans for mega-constellations of satellites that outpace sustainability rules;
  • A drive toward next-generation space exploration and resource extraction by private actors;
  • The emergence of dual-use technologies such as debris removal, satellite servicing, and maneuvering capabilities;
  • Continuing development and demonstration of anti-satellite capabilities;
  • U.S. plans for space-based ballistic missile interceptors that could mark the first deployment of space-based weapons.

According to Project Ploughshares there is a some good news, “the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) reached consensus on 21 voluntary guidelines to enhance the long-term sustainability of space activities. And as the number of countries and industries with a stake in outer space increases, more of the world’s people are able to benefit from access to space-based data and services. But so, too, does the need for cooperation and regulation.”

Project manager Dr. Jessica West says “the newly released 15th volume of the annual report as ‘striking’ for its illustration of the growing gap between governance and the types of activities taking place in outer space.”

This years Global Assessment was written by Dr. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a Distinguished Fellow and Head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, India and Technical Advisor to the Group of Governmental Experts on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS).

Project Ploughshares states that the Global Assessment is prepared by a different expert on space security every year to encourage a range of perspectives over time.

Dr. Raji Rajagopalan said of his Global Assessment “there is little question that the international community recognizes the need for new efforts in space governance, though this recognition has not yet compelled them to reach an agreement. Space is truly a global commons and also a limited commodity; hence it is incumbent upon every state to join in preserving it for future generations.”

Some of the facts highlighted in the report are;

  • More than 1,800 active satellites.
  • 70 civil space programs.
  • Government space programs that spend a total of $62.6-billion a year.
  • 62 states that own satellites.
  • 2,000 lives saved annually through Cospas-Sarsat.
  • Satellite-industry revenues of $268-billion.
  • Annual private investments of $2.5-billion in space startups.

The Space Security Index 2018 was produced by civil society and academic organizations under the leadership of Canadian nonprofit organization Project Ploughshares. Partners include The Simons Foundation Canada; the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec; the Space Policy Institute at The George Washington University in Washington, DC; the Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics at the University of Adelaide Law School in Australia; and the School of Law at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China.

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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