The United States will take a stab at joining Europe and other nations in hammering out a code of conduct for activities in space.
The Obama administration passed on Europe’s first take at an “International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities” because it would have crimped the military’s access and use of space.
But there are areas all parties agree on, at least in principle, such as the growing problem of space debris. Currently, there are more than 10,000 pieces of space junk circling around the planet. Even small pieces of debris can pack a deadly punch to an operational satellite or the International Space Station (ISS) because they travel at thousands of miles per hour.
“Unless the international community addresses these challenges, the environment around our planet will become increasingly hazardous to human spaceflight and satellite systems, which would create damaging consequences for all of us,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement on Tuesday.
One area that’s not up for negotiation is the U.S. military’s use of space.
“The United States has made clear to our partners that we will not enter into a code of conduct that in any way constrains our national security-related activities in space or our ability to protect the United States and our allies,” Clinton said.
“We are, however, committed to working together to reverse the troubling trends that are damaging our space environment and to preserve the limitless benefits and promise of space for future generations,” she added.
Image: One world, surrounded by junk. Credit: NASA Orbital Debris Program Office