Thursday, January 28, 2021

Webinar on ‘Threats to the Outer Space Environment’ held

Dimapur, September 11: More than 50 years of space flight since Sputnik I on 4 October 1957 have left many usable orbits full of junk. Parts of rockets and fuel as well as other particles threaten space objects tremendously since they fly at a very high velocity and can thus destroy even functional space objects like satellites. Shielding of space objects against space junk bigger than 1 cm is impossible. To discuss the ‘real’ threat of space debris to the Outer Space Environment and possible mitigation measures from legal perspective Department of Political Science of Tetso College invited Prof. (Dr) H C Stephan Hobethe, Director of the Institute of Air Law, Space law and Cyber Law as well as Co-Director of the International Investment law Centre Cologne University, Germany in an International Webinar on September 9.
It was for the first time that a topic related to the International Space Law has been discussed at the academic platform in the state of Nagaland.
Dr. Aniruddha Babar who was moderating the session took an initiative on behalf of the Department of Political Science with active encouragement and unconditional support from HoD Dr. Rimmei Longmei, Vice Principal, Dr. Hewasa Lorin and Director, Kvulo Lorin to arrange and facilitate the International Webinar.
While examining the present International Legal Order to see whether there are provisions designed for the protection of outer space and the celestial objects, Dr. Stephan Hobe observed that the Outer Space Treaty declares that any State that has registered a space object shall retain legal and de facto jurisdiction and control over that object. As a piece of space debris is considered a ‘space object’ for legal purposes, even if the State were to lose de facto control over the space object when it becomes non-functional or uncontrollable, it retains sole legal jurisdiction and control as per the treaty. However, therefore, it is uncertain whether space objects, their component parts or fragments thereof can legally be abandoned or considered abandoned, irrespective of their non-functional status reinforced by the fact that space faring States have hitherto not expressed a right to abandon their non-functional satellites in space.
“This poses serious challenges to the possibility of introducing a legal regime of ‘salvage’whereby actors other than the State of registry could freely remove pieces of debris accumulated in the usable orbits of the space that pose a threat in Earth orbit and states are not willing to venture into this adventure because of the involvement of heavy cost,” Prof. Stephan Hobe observed.
During Q & A session there were discussions regarding the role of state actors in cleaning up the space debris. Questions have been raised as to the measuring aspects of debris and legal responsibility to clean it. One of the participants has raised questions about the piled up debris on the Moon as a result of multiple Moon Missions by space agencies ROSCOSMOS and NASA which have pioneered the space exploration programs. The role of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning as the means and modes to clean up the Space Debris has also been deliberated upon by the participants.
One of the participants has also asked the question as to the possibility of UFOs contributing to the Space Debris.
The participants consisted of a Post-Doctoral Fellow, Doctoral Scholars, Academicians and Students from Nagaland and different parts of the country unanimously agreed that the space debris is a serious threat which may have serious repercussions in the near future in the context of an explosion in the aerospace industry, with more and more companies providing commercial launch services and things like satellite-based broadband internet.
Participants expressed concern that the current situation in orbit is only likely to get worse.
(Page News Service)