Sustaining Outer Space: An SSA Data-Sharing Arrangement for the G20

Pranav R. Satyanath (Takshashila Institution)
This Policy Brief was first published in https://t20ind.org


The Earth’s orbits are an extension of the planet’s environment. Orbital sustainability, therefore, must be an imperative consideration for the G20. The Guidelines on Long- Term Sustainability (LTS Guidelines), negotiated in 2018 under the UN COPUOS, calls on UN member states to promote the collection, sharing, and dissemination of space debris monitoring information. Over the coming years, the number of satellites in space is set to increase exponentially. With no mechanism in place to monitor space activities, ensuring the safety of operations in Earth’s orbits becomes more difficult. This Policy Brief makes the case for the G20 to treat the Earth’s orbits as an extension of the Earth’s environment and thus, bring outer space into the fold of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda. The Brief also posits that the G20 must pursue a Space Situational Awareness (SSA) data-sharing arrangement to be taken under the auspices of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). The proposed arrangement will leverage the capabilities of the G20 member states to provide a near-complete picture of the activities in Earth’s orbits. The collective SSA capabilities of the G20 members, along with commercially available technologies, gives rise to an opportunity to create a multilateral SSA network that makes operating in space safer for both orbiting spacecrafts as well as spacefaring humans.


Pranav R. Satyanath (Takshashila Institution)

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