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Updated “Rules of the road” for satellites 

    An updated version of the space security document, approved by more than two dozen organizations, contains “rules of the road” designed to prevent collisions between space objects.

    The Space Security Coalition (SSC) has released new recommendations to protect orbiting satellites from space debris damage.

    The updated recommendations have been approved by more than two dozen organizations and contain, among other things, “rules of the road” that should help prevent collisions between space objects.

    The document defines five classes of objects – non-maneuverable, low-maneuverable, maneuverable, objects with an automatic collision avoidance system and manned spacecraft. It also outlines the rules that should be observed to avoid a collision of two spacecraft in orbit.

    Usually smaller and therefore more maneuverable objects are the ones that should be orbited to avoid larger, heavier objects.

    However, sometimes special coordination may be required – in cases where two spacecraft belonging to the same category meet, or in cases where it is difficult to determine when the spacecraft made a maneuver.

    SSC is an international organization that brings together satellite operators, aerospace companies and industry representatives. For the first time, the organization published a set of space rules in 2019. However, now she decided to update them, given the “pressing need to provide better protection for space objects.”

    The new recommendations are based on updated space stability and debris mitigation standards, including advice on how spacecraft should be disposed of after their missions have ended. For example, through the gradual transfer of them to a “passive state” to prevent explosions with the formation of debris.

    In addition, the SCC also urged satellite operators to share information and avoid deliberate fragmentation.

    The European Space Agency ( ESA ) estimates that there are currently 36,500 objects larger than 10 cm drifting in space, as well as 130 million space debris particles between 1 mm and 1 cm.