The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has released a report of its December 7, 2020, informational meeting, Standardization and the Commercial Space Industry – Space Situational and Domain Awareness, Space Traffic Coordination and Management, and Orbital Debris Mitigation. The purpose of the virtual meeting was to raise awareness of relevant policy and standardization activity relating to these topics and the growing commercial space industry, and to facilitate dialogue on coordination and participation in standards setting. ANSI serves as administrator and coordinator of the U.S. private-sector system of voluntary standardization.
The meeting drew close to 300 attendees from the United States and 17 other countries. Subject matter experts from government, industry, non-governmental organizations, and academia exchanged information on relevant policy instruments, industry standards, and best practices.
With safety being an overarching concern, noted policy developments included an update of the Federal Communications Commission orbital debris mitigation rules, streamlined rules on licensing requirements for commercial space transportation launches and reentries from the Federal Aviation Administration, and the issuance of a Congressionally-directed report by the National Academy of Public Administration which reaffirmed the Commerce Department’s Office of Space Commerce as the best suited civil agency to perform space traffic management tasks.
Several speakers remarked on the fast rate at which the commercial space industry is growing and the need for standards and best practices to keep pace with this momentum. It was generally acknowledged that achieving a safe and sustainable space ecosystem is going to require both the public and private-sectors working together on these issues. There is a need for transparent, timely, and actionable sharing of satellite conjunction assessment information. There must be greater compliance with existing policies, standards, and practices related to debris removal. More generally, there is a need to operationalize high level agreements as well as policies and procedures. A coordinated, whole-of-government approach is needed and the time for action is now.
Some notable standards- and policy-related activities currently underway include:
ANSI will continue to monitor policy and standards activity related to the commercial space industry sector and remains willing to offer its services as a neutral facilitator for ongoing information-sharing and coordination discussions as appropriate. To stay apprised of future ANSI activity on these topics, email Jim McCabe, senior director, standards facilitation, ANSI (firstname.lastname@example.org).