New Research on US Space Policy, Space Debris, and Prospects for Active Debris Removal

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Overview of US national space policy directives on space debris

SWF Director of Program Planning Dr. Brian Weeden has published a new research article in The Space Review summarizing the history of US space policy on dealing with space debris, and the prospects for active debris removal (ADR). The article updates and revises a paper Dr. Weeden originally presented at the 2016 International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, with additional analysis and more recent events. 

The article begins by summarizing the history and evolution of US national space policy on dealing with space debris from the Reagan Administration through to the Obama Administration, and the progress made implementing the policy directives from the 2010 National Space Policy issued by the Obama Administration. The article then discusses the economics of space debris, and why government involvement is necessary to help deal with space debris, and uses theories from the field of public policy to explain why there has not been significant interest from existing US government agencies to make progress on ADR. The article concludes with a recommendation that Congress, working in conjunction with the White House, explicitly assign responsibility for dealing with space debris to a federal agency, which should then work to create incentives for the private sector to develop ADR capabilities. 

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Last updated on November 3, 2017