Proposal for International Cooperation for Space Safety Standards
Outerspace has no beginning and no end! While not knowing the end is clearly a matter of limits of our current scientific knowledge, not having defined a beginning is a sign of lack of international technical standardization. Can we do without international space standards specifically in relation to matters of safety and traffic control? Can we just live with the general principles enshrined in the old space treaties? Probably not for long. At least not as far it pertains to that region of outerspace which extends up to and including geostationary orbits (so called near-space), which is strategic (commercially and militarily) and essential for so many aspects of our modern life. If we compare the current status of civil and commercial space developments in near-space with the early times of civil aviation we can easily see striking similarities in terms of poor safety record and lack of international traffic control. While the establishment of an international body similar to ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) for regulating civil and commercial space is a political matter somehow still in the future, its main foundation would be a set of international space safety standards developed on the basis of technical consensus and coordination among institutional stakeholders. This paper proposes to start immediately such cooperation through an international “core” group of governmental aero-space organizations. Further cooperation enlargement would be foreseen but pursued as conditions allow. The following four coordinated groupings of standards are proposed for development: I) Public Safety Risk of Space Missions. Standards dealing with public safety risk management, including launch and re-entry operations, safe use of NPS (Nuclear Power Sources), health hazard in proximity of launch sites, as well as interfaces between airspace and outerspace bound traffic. II) Ground Processing of Commercial Space Vehicles and Payloads. Standards establishing common design and operations safety requirements for ground processing of Commercial Space Vehicles and Payloads at international spaceports, including certification of ground personnel. III) On-orbit Space Traffic Control. Standards establishing exchange of data and operational rules to prevent on orbit physical (in addition to frequency) interferences between functional spacecraft and to prevent collision with orbital debris. IV) On-Orbit Safe & Rescue and Servicing. Standards establishing international rendezvous and docking requirements and minimum systems interoperability requirements, for on-orbit safe & rescue and servicing operations.