Lawmakers position US as space stickman of the galaxy

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America took the title of world police in the 20th century and Congress now he is preparing to make the USA the stickman of the galaxy in the 21st century.

Legislation on its way Congress It would fund the development of new capabilities to monitor space litter and establish a federal office to monitor litter and other objects in space.

Proponents of a more aggressive US effort on this front refer to the growing dangers of space junk. The boom in the commercial space industry and increased space exploration by other countries is filling the road to the final frontier with space junk and traffic jams.

Senator Cynthia Lummis from Wyoming, the top Republican on the Commerce Committee’s space and science panel, said on Thursday she was comfortable being described as a “space junk woman” because she wanted the United States to take a leading role in promoting space situational awareness. space traffic management and space policy that earthlings should follow.

According to Ms. Lummis, there are an estimated 4,000 satellites currently orbiting the Earth, with 1,200 launched last year and more than 1,200 already launched in 2021. It is expected that 46,000 new satellites will be launched into space in the coming years.

According to NASA, the Department of Defense’s global Space Surveillance Network (SSN) sensors are currently working to monitor 27,000 pieces of space junk.

“This garbage poses huge risks to our assets in space,” Ms Lummis said at a Senate hearing on Thursday. “I’ve learned that even the tiniest bits of orbital debris, paint splatters, can cause serious damage. Every collision creates more debris, so it’s a self-created problem.”

Senator John Hickenlooper, a Colorado Democrat and chair of the space and science subcommittee, determined that a 2007 Chinese arms show created 3,000 debris objects flying through space at high speeds, and 1,800 debris objects as a 2009 US satellite collided with a Russian satellite.

As more public and private objects launch into space, Mr Hickenlooper said the United States cannot afford to wait for the next collision to take action.

“In highway traffic and I realize it’s a very loose analogy, but traffic increases up to a certain point and then there is a point where things stop, accidents increase, traffic speed slows significantly, the system starts to fail.” Hickenlooper said at trial.

“And I think in this loose sense it’s an analogy where we’re fast approaching the point where dramatic increases in traffic will wreak havoc if we don’t address it now.”

The actions Mr. Hickenlooper wants the government to take include full implementation of a space policy directive for traffic management and enacting the Space Act, which has recently passed the Senate as part of the US Innovation and Competition Act, which focuses on promoting US research and development. against China.

The provisions of the Space Act include the creation of “centers of excellence for space situational awareness,” where the government develops new capabilities to monitor space junk, funded with $20 million in taxpayer money. The Space Act also allows another $15 million taxpayer dollars to be spent by the Department of Commerce’s director of space trade to develop a space situational awareness program.

Hickenlooper warned that if the US does not write the space rules, the European Union, Russia and China will override American interests in the management of space traffic.

Another force shaping space rules will be billionaires who dedicate time and money to the space tourism industry and space colonization efforts. Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson rocketed to the edge of space earlier this month, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos this week joined the Blue Origin space company’s first crewed journey to the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space. Upon his return, Mr. Bezos said he intended to help “build a road to space”.

Whether Mr. Bezos’ path will be built will depend on governments’ willingness to entrust the risk of exploring space to Mr. Bezos and other commercial space entrepreneurs. Such a public-private relationship model can be found in the defense sector.

“This is so exciting. Who would have imagined that the private sector would be a leader in space? Certainly when I work on these issues Congress 20 years [ago] “But this is the same transition the defense industry led years ago, led by the government and then taken over by the private sector,” former Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNBC.

Paul Graziani, CEO of the Center for Commercial Space Operations (COMSPOC Corp.), told the Senate panel that to clean up the space, the government will rely on the private sector for help.

He also warned that if the growing space junk problem isn’t fixed soon, low Earth orbit will soon become “really unusable”.

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