Austin heads the US Space Command to develop a guide to the principles of space behavior

Austin heads the US Space Command to develop a guide to the principles of space behavior

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  • Thus far, the European Union and 26 nations, including the United States, Russia, and China, have submitted ideas for inclusion in the report. Nine organizations, including RAND, the Secure World Foundation, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, have also provided their input. U.S. defense officials have said that Russia and China are leading ASAT efforts, including China’s fielding of ground-based ASAT missiles intended to destroy satellites in low Earth orbit and ground-based ASAT lasers that U.S. officials believe are intended to blind or damage sensitive space-based optical sensors on lower Earth orbit satellites.

  • In March, interim national security strategic guidance by the Biden administration said that the U.S. “will lead in promoting shared norms and forge new agreements” on outer space. John Hill, the acting assistant secretary of defense for space policy, told the House Armed Services Committee in May that an international ban on ASAT weapons would come with a host of problems, including the definition of an ASAT; the dual use of technologies, such as lasers; and the space situational awareness required to discern accurately that the employment of a given technology is as an ASAT weapon (Defense Daily, May 5).

This fall at the convening of the 76th U.N. General Assembly, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres is to submit a report, which is to include the views of member states on such norms of behavior to jump start the effort. On Dec. 7 last year, the U.N. General Assembly passed A/Res/75/36, a resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and backed by the United States, that encourages U.N. member states “to study existing and potential threats and security risks to space systems, including those arising from actions, activities or systems in outer space or on Earth, characterize actions and activities that could be considered responsible, irresponsible or threatening and their potential impact on international security, and share their ideas on the further development and implementation of norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviors and on the reduction of the risks of misunderstanding and miscalculations with respect to outer space.”

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  China, for its part, suggested in its report to the U.N. on recommended norms of behavior in space that the U.S. can use space systems, such as the Boeing [BA] X-37B and the L3Harris Technologies [LHX] Counter Communications System, offensively.

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