Advancing a Strategic Approach to Global Space Traffic CoordinationMay 2022
Topics: Airspace, Space Operations, Policy
Space is a common pool resource for the world. The use of orbits around the Earth is vital to many capabilities that drive global civilian and commercial activities, including telecommunications and access to the internet, navigation, weather forecasting and prediction modeling, as well as scientific research. However, as space becomes increasingly popular, the shared use of this resource becomes threatened.
Building on the recommendations identified in the National Academy of Public Administration’s (the Academy) report, “Space Traffic Management,” this paper lays out a strategic direction for the United States (U.S.) to advance global space traffic coordination (GSTC) and preserve space as a common pool resource for future generations. The purpose of this strategic direction is to guide all GSTC activities and contribute to ongoing conversations about federal priorities, resources, and investments.
In this spirit, the authors propose that all GSTC activities should be guided by three long-term performance outcomes for the domain:
- Preserving operating regions of space
- Advancing the space economy
- Maximizing the probability of mission success
These outcomes reflect what should be the shared interests for all space actors. They are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Because of the diverse interests of space actors, these outcomes may be interpreted or valued differently. These outcomes reflect what should be the shared interests for all space actors. They are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Because of the diverse interests of space actors, these outcomes may be interpreted or valued differently.
It will be important for the U.S. to work alongside its partners—other nation-states, international governing entities, state and local governments, as well as private and nonprofit entities—to come to a shared understanding of the outcomes and, by extension, adapt to evolving global market trends with policy and regulation, standards, and norms that influence and incentivize desired behaviors. The convening role, such as that recommended for the Office of Space Commerce (OSC) in the Academy’s report, can be applied more broadly to urgently perform activities that establish a stable foundation for GSTC to operate upon.
As leaders navigate the accelerating pace of change to space-based activities, they will need to take additional factors into consideration that should frame their choices and inform their decision making. To advance the long-term outcomes, this paper uses a performance logic model to sequence near-term progress, related performance indicators, a prioritized list of supporting activities, and suggested domain values.
This paper is organized in four sections: Section I highlights the overall approach; Section II, the long-term strategic approach; Section III, considerations for the next three to five years; and Section IV, considerations for next steps.Download PDF (1.67 MB)