On August 23rd 2023, India became the fourth country to make a successful soft lunar landing1, after the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China. In parallel, NASA is preparing its ARTEMIS missions to return to the moon and many other countries (Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates among others) have also set their sights on moon missions.
Beyond this, several commercial companies are preparing missions to the Moon. Largely driven by the search for space resources, a new race into space exploration is underway and may increase its pace in the upcoming years with more countries becoming involved.
The geopolitical implications of this space race are multifaceted and will include challenges regarding coordinating space resource usage, international collaboration and competition, dual-use capabilities, the creation (intentional and unintentional) of space debris, and space security and stability concerns.
This latter issue has been increasingly discussed in international fora2. The increasing number of satellites and spacecrafts launched into orbit will create a higher number of space debris, increasing the potential for collisions. The company SpaceX has over 5000 of its satellites in orbit and Elon Musk has said that he “eventually wants to send up to 42000 satellites into space”3.
Countries will need to collaborate on space traffic management to ensure a sustainable use of space. While certain recommendations and guidelines exist, which some countries already adopt and enforce, there is a need to do more. The international space treaties from the 1960s and 1970s setting the key principles for the use of space are the basic framework of international space law. However, the application of these treaties is challenged by the evolving use of and actions in space activities. Achieving agreement on what is responsible and irresponsible behaviour in orbit and on the Moon is very complicated and requires prioritization by political leaders.
The Secure World Foundation is working with governments, industry, international organisations, and civil society to develop and promote cooperative and collaborative solutions for sustainable and peaceful use of space, benefitting Earth and all its people.
Join us online for the first EOcafe of the Autumn Season!
Victoria Samson (Washington Office Director of the Secure World Foundation) will discuss all these geo-strategic implications with our host Geoff Sawyer (EARSC Strategic Advisor and former Secretary General).
Topics that could be addressed during this EOcafe include the following:
- To what extent does India’s recent landing on the moon represent the start of a new space race?
- Historically, space has been a key area for cooperation between nations. Given the race to the moon and beyond, has this changed?
- Does the involvement of the commercial sector impact the way nations could work together?
- What are the geostrategic implications of this new era in space exploration?
- How much are space capabilities driven by conflict between nations?
- Can the international space law (treaties) provide a response to the upcoming challenges?
- Are the existing frameworks adequate to tackle the issue of secure access to space?
Registration: The webinar is open to all. Registration is free but compulsory.
Please note this is a virtual event!
EOcafe is part of a series of EARSC meetings that offer timely, relevant, and practical information on a broad variety of topics related to the EO sector. Join us every two weeks to discuss and network while enjoying a cup of coffee with friends.
- The use of a video camera is not mandatory but is encouraged to facilitate better interaction between the attendees and the guest speaker(s).
- The EOcafe will stay open after 17:00 in case our guests want to continue the discussion.
- By registering for this event, you accept the terms and conditions (https://earsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/EARSC_Events_GDPR.pdf).
If you have any questions, and/or you want to know more about the EOcafe, and/or you want to share an idea about a future EOcafe, please contact Natassa (firstname.lastname@example.org).