Announcing Secure World Foundation 2024 Space Sustainability Research Fellowships

Monday, June 3, 2024

Application Deadline:

  • Monday, June 17, 2024: 9 AM Mountain Daylight Time - MDT (3:00 PM Coordinated Universal Time - UTC)
  • Submit to with the subject line: 2024 SWF Space Sustainability Research Proposal - [your last name]. 


To investigate fundamental questions and clarify fundamental concepts in space sustainability, the Secure World Foundation announces the 2024 call for Space Sustainability Fellowships.



The mission of the Secure World Foundation is to work with governments, industry, international organizations, and civil society to develop and promote ideas and actions to achieve the secure, sustainable, and peaceful uses of outer space benefiting Earth and all its peoples. In the course of our work, often the underlying rationales and concepts of space sustainability become forgotten or misconstrued. Consequently, basic concepts, facts, and rationales underpinning space sustainability necessitate continued investigation, discussion, promotion, and socialization. 

Each year, the SWF Space Sustainability Research Fellows are tasked with investigating and answering questions regarding one or more fundamental concepts underpinning space sustainability. In 2024, the focus will be on next steps in international coordination for planetary defense and arms control treaty processes (see the 2024 Space Sustainability Research Areas below).


The duration of the SWF Space Sustainability Fellowships shall be up to four months. Fellows may work in-person in the SWF offices in Broomfield, Colorado, or Washington, DC, hybrid, or entirely remotely. The Fellowships are open to non-US citizens. Successful candidates will likely be graduate-level or early-career professionals. Fellows will update their designated SWF project manager on a weekly basis on the nature and current status of their work, and upon completion of the fellowship will be encouraged to present their research and findings broadly. In 2024, SWF is seeking two Fellows to begin their research in early July.


Fellows will receive an honorarium of $2,500 USD upon successful submission and acceptance of their research deliverables. 


Space Sustainability Research Fellows shall complete and submit a final report on their research topic, comprising between 12,000 to 20,000 words (excluding footnotes/endnotes). The report must be of publishable and professional quality, with original content not published elsewhere and with appropriate references. In addition to a final report, a two-page executive summary shall be submitted. The report and executive summary will be posted on the SWF website and SWF will have the right to publish and distribute them under a creative commons license, with the Fellow listed as the report’s main author. Fellows shall retain the right to promote and publish their work products with attribution to the SWF report publication. The deadline for submission of the preliminary draft of the report for internal review is the end of September 2024, and the deadline for submission of the final report is the end of October 2024.

Call for Applications

Choose one of the following specific research areas below, and submit your proposed research agenda (400 words or less) outlining how you would work to answer the research question(s) and submit the deliverables listed above (report and executive summary). Include your current résumé or CV. Applications are due by 9 AM Mountain Daylight Time - MDT (3:00 PM Coordinated Universal Time - UTC) on Monday, June 17, 2024. No phone calls, please. Submit to with the subject line: 2024 SWF Space Sustainability Research Proposal - [your last name].

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility at SWF

The Secure World Foundation provides equal opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, expression or identity, national origin, age, or physical disability. SWF is committed to promoting and supporting more diverse, inclusive, and equitable engagement in discussions on issues related to the secure, sustainable, and peaceful uses of outer space. We believe that we can harness the inspirational power of space to be as inclusive as possible in our workplace and in all our activities, to help create a more tolerant, more inclusive, and more humane society, right here on Earth. As an organization, we maintain evaluation and feedback mechanisms for continued improvement in this area.

2024 Space Sustainability Research Areas

1. Next Steps in International Planetary Defense Coordination

Research questions:

1. What are the existing measures for international coordination and exchange of data on the NEO population and specific objects of interest, and for exchange of the supporting algorithms and analyses of the data and assessment of impact risks? Are these measures fit-for-purpose for planetary defense?

  • According to planetary defense experts, what capabilities are needed to complete the catalog of 90% of NEOs 140 meters in size or larger? Are terrestrial survey capabilities sufficient, or will space-based NEO surveys be necessary?

2. Does clarity exist in terms of scientifically-based criteria for deciding between different active planetary defense strategies in a range of different situations?

  • For planetary defense scenarios necessitating the use of nuclear explosive devices, what special steps in international transparency and coordination are required?

3. What international discussions, decisions, and understandings are necessary for effective planetary defense?

  • What national rights, roles, and responsibilities need to be clarified on an international level?
  • What actions are recommended to bring about this clarity?
  • Are the current fora for these discussions (UN COPUOS, IAWN, SMPAG, UN GA and Security Council) “fit for purpose” to discuss, face, and solve these challenges?

2. Evolution of Treaties: From Conception to Birth, How are Arms Control Treaties Made?

Research Questions:

1. In arms control, what subjects and areas of activity lend themselves to treaty-making, and what subjects and areas of activity are not regularly conducive to treaty-making?

2. What is the usual process for the development of arms control treaties?

  • What are the components of treaties? Who authors them? How does one decide who needs to be part of the negotiations?
  • How and where are treaties drafted? How do they get matured? What is their development process? What factors affect deciding who needs to be parties to a treaty and when they enter into force?
  • What roles do states, international fora, commercial sector entities, and civil society play in developing and socializing treaties?

Last updated on June 3, 2024