Position Paper for United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)
The Argentine Republic would like to start off by acknowledging the progress the Argentine Republic has seen with this committee and UNISPACE50+. The topics to be presented before the committee are, “Combating the Threat of Space Junk and Orbital Debris Collisions,” and “The Privatization of Space Exploration.” The Argentine Republic believes that the allowance of private agencies in space exploration is not only important but necessary as government agencies just do not have the physical ability to progress fast enough or sometimes underfunded and inefficient. Since the Argentine Republic believes that the matter of the privatization of space is more important in that it directly affects the Argentine republic more, the Argentine Republic has not had much time to research the issue of debris in space. The representative of the Argentine Republic believes that there is a need for space debris mitigation standards to be administered as space debris poses a significant danger to objects orbiting the earth and the multiple spacecraft which are exiting the earth’s orbit.
The Privatization of Space Exploration
The Argentine Republic has always prided itself in the fact that there has been accelerated progress in the field of space exploration due to our collaborations with not only international space agencies but also with private firms and organizations including the likes of Argentine Association for Space Technology (AATE), INVAP, an Argentine company that provides design, integration, construction and delivery of equipment, plants and devices and the first to be credited by NASA in Latina America or Centro de Ensayos de Alta Tecnología Sociedad Anónima(CEATSA). These relations have allowed the Argentine Republic’s CONAE to develop technologies faster as a result of the larger number of resources made available by such collaborations, such as the Paquete Argentino de Experimentos (PADE), and would also like to mention that the private structure of these firms allow them to be more efficient and they are better adapted to do more scientific research as a result of the more extensive funding, not pressured by government quotas, and public image issues. Most if not all public-sector organizations such as NASA are answerable and are at the mercy of political powers and directly result in their need for public approval which is not possible in scientific fields such as space exploration.
The benefits of such relationships and allowances are exemplary in the relation between SpaceX, the company at the forefront of the missions to Mars, and NASA and the other space agencies during the very recently launched space shuttle to the International Space Station (ISS) with supplies or the United States government recently sold the old Apollo/Cape Canaveral launchpad for their launches. As long as the International Space Law based “formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, “the outer space treaty, is followed, restrictions placed on the privatization of space exploration would be an actual speed-breaker to progress as tradition government agencies would not be able to continue the current rate of research and data, extensive amounts of which are provided by private agencies and research labs.
The privatization of space exploration will not only accelerate progress in their field but creates jobs for what has become one of the hardest fields in which to find a stable career. The creation of jobs in this field will allow for other students to be motivated to pursue a career in this field and more companies will sprout around the research and development of specific space technologies. The Argentine Republic believes that the privatization of space exploration is beneficial but there is regulation required to make sure there is no exploitation of scarce resources and the people of all nations around the globe including treaties for easier international collaboration and participation along with a temporary open space treaty to accelerate experimentation and exploration, as a result of the evidence presented, the Argentine Republic stand in favor of the privatization of space exploration and hopefully the global consensus is as we have seen it.
Combating the Threat of Space Junk and Orbital Debris Collisions
Space debris, to many, may seem like a non-issue but to countries at the forefront of space exploration, the representative of the Argentine Republic, believes that the space debris, over 200 million pieces of debris including a total of 16433 pieces of debris that are detectable as full-sized satellites floating just above the earth’s stratosphere in its orbit, pose a real threat to the safety of all 1,419 operational satellites and all future launches to both orbit and outer space. This information on its own is enough to instill a sense of distress into any researcher or scientist but this is compounded by the copious amounts of anecdotal evidence presented in the form of occurrences of space debris collisions since the events of the 1991 launch of the STS-48 during which the first collision-avoidance maneuver occurred, a seven-second thruster burn to avoid debris from Kosmos 955, similar maneuvers have had to be initiated three other times in the same space program’s launches. More recently, the first major destructive event occurred in 2009, when the deactivated Kosmos 2251 with the Iridium 33 and more recently, last year the Cosmos-375, itself destroyed in a collision and had previously threatened to impact the International Space Station in 2011. This is the only proof we can provide for our stance; this anecdotal evidence indicates that there is a very apparent need for the mitigation and laws to be enacted to impact change in the phenomenon of space debris. If there is no change made to the current situation, the result will be losses in the billions and setbacks of sometimes a few years. The representative of the Argentine Republic firmly believes in the mitigation of space debris.