Background: The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1959 to govern the exploration and use of space for the benefit of all humanity: for peace, security and development. Due to the rapid growth of the space sector and number of space actors, the Committee has become increasingly involved in issues of sustainability of the outer space environment and began efforts to develop voluntary, non-legally binding guidelines for the responsible and sustainable use of outer space in 2010. During the Committee’s 62nd session in 2019, consensus was reached on a preamble and 21 guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities (LTS), which were subsequently endorsed by General Assembly resolution 74/82. These guidelines, many of which relate to U.S. domestic practice, address a number of key issues, including guidance on national level policy and regulatory frameworks for space activities, safety of space operations, scientific research and development, international cooperation, and capacity-building to ensure that developing nations can establish conducive national policies for safe space operations.
To build off these efforts, the Committee established a new “LTS 2.0” working group and five-year workplan in 2022 and encouraged States “to voluntarily take measures to ensure that the guidelines were implemented to the greatest extent feasible and practicable,” while emphasizing that UNCOPUOS served as the principal forum for continued institutionalized dialogue on issues related to the implementation and review of LTS guidelines.
In response to the new LTS 2.0 working group, the United States Department of State (“State”) is in the process of consolidating inputs from Departments and Agencies on their specific efforts in implementing the 21 LTS guidelines and will submit its national input to the working group later this year. In addition to implementation activities by the U.S. Government and associated international outreach, State is also seeking information on how the private sector has chosen to implement the guidelines and improve their own practices of sustainability in outer space. This effort will both better capture U.S. implementation efforts as well as highlight the innovative and responsible nature of the U.S. private sector in their space activities. Request: In alignment with the Department of State’s notice on “Private Sector Participation in Domestic and International Events on Spaceflight Safety, Sustainability, and Emerging Markets in Outer Space” of January 19, 2022 (87 FR 2978), State is seeking written input from private sector actors on how they have implemented or are in the process of implementing the COPUOS LTS guidelines. Submitted inputs should consider:
- What concrete actions your organization has taken to improve the long-term sustainability of outer space and what specific LTS guidelines correspond to those actions?
- [Optional] How does your organization views the current state of space sustainability efforts, both domestically and globally?
- [Optional] What efforts can the U.S. Government and American private sector take to promote and support — on a mutually acceptable basis and in accordance with U.S. and international law — capacity-building on LTS in developing countries with emerging space programs?
- [Optional] What might be missing from the current set of 21 LTS guidelines, and what are potential new and emerging challenges that could benefit from being discussed?
- Clearly indicate which specific guideline(s) you are referring to in your submission.
- If a given guideline does not apply to your organization or your organization does not have information to report on a given guideline, you do not need to report on that guideline.
- Submitted material will be reviewed and anonymized.
- Responses will then be synthesized and included as part of the U.S. national submission to UNCOPUOS.
- Private sector activities will be noted as such and separate from noted government activities.
Additional background on the UN and other nation’s awareness-raising and capacity-building efforts concerning the implementation of the 21 LTS guidelines can be found at: https://spacesustainability.unoosa.org/ Please submit your written input by August 15, 2022 to FRN-11630-Inbox@state.gov.