Responsible Space Behavior for the New Space Era

by Bruce McClintock, Katie Feistel, Douglas C. Ligor, Kathryn O'Connor

Humans have explored and exploited near-earth space for more than six decades. More recently, the past two decades have seen the start of a New Space Era, characterized by more spacefaring nations and companies and a growing risk of collisions and conflict. Yet the basic treaties and mechanisms that were crafted 50 years ago to govern space activities have only marginally changed.

The calls for more progress on space governance and responsible space behavior are growing louder and coming from a larger group. To help address the gap between current space governance and future needs, the authors of this Perspective summarize the development of space governance and key problem areas, identify challenges and barriers to further progress, and, most importantly, offer recommended first steps on a trajectory toward responsible space behavior norms appropriate for the New Space Era. The authors used a review of relevant literature and official documents, expert workshops, and subject-matter expert interviews and discussions to identify these challenges, barriers, and potential solutions.