Responsible Behavior in Space

The Pentagon is working with the State Department to develop global norms for space, but industry should develop de facto norms first, the Air Force’s deputy undersecretary for space said Thursday at an AFA breakfast. As industry proliferates and develops smaller satellites, it must figure out a way of making those satellites more visible to radar, for safety reasons, Winston Beauchamp said. “That is work that is best done by industry, to develop those de facto norms, without the government getting involved just yet,” he said. Still, it’s important that the international community determine “what responsible behavior in space looks like,” he said. “We already know what irresponsible behavior in space looks like,” Beauchamp said, citing the 2007 anti-satellite missile test by the Chinese that left thousands of pieces of debris in space. One thing nearly everyone can agree on is that no one should create long-lived debris in space, so partners can start there, he said. “When you talk about these things in public, everybody claims they want to be responsible in space. So that’s great, that’s a good thing. All we have to do now is define our terms,” Beauchamp said. Air Force Space Command boss Gen. John Hyten in February said the US needs international norms so it can develop rules of engagement. (Listen to audio of Beauchamp’s remarks.)