Hub Leads: Andrew Williams (ESO) & Richard Green (University of Arizona)
Starlink Satellites pass overhead near Carson National Forest, New Mexico, photographed soon after launch. Credit: M. Lewinsky/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
The Policy Hub will study national and international policies and regulation related to the use of space and in particular to satellite constellations. Through its membership, the Policy Hub will coordinate and support the work of national groups on these topics, and also support actors in international policy forums (such as UN COPUOS and the International Telecommunication Union, ITU). The hub will collect information in the forms of surveys or databases and will generate resources such as whitepapers and opinions.
Previous work in the policy area (SATCONs and Dark and Quiet Skies workshops) identified a lack of comprehensive regulation for satellite constellations in any country. Space-faring nations include certain aspects of a satellite operation and life-cycle in their regulations but there is no consideration of the use of space as an environment, and the potential impact that space objects can create on ground-based activities.
The Policy Hub has identified the following challenges:
- Lack of comprehensive regulation for satellite constellations in any country.
- Mitigation of impact on astronomy through codifying the good intentions of industry.
- Coordination to implement consistent worldwide policy through regulation in each space-faring country, with support at UN level.
- Effective interaction with the Industry, Community Engagement and Sat Hubs so that policy reflects fairly the complex consensus.
The specific goals of the Policy Hub include:
- Raising awareness of astronomy requirements in space policy-making circles;
- Coordination of policy work performed by national societies and observatories;
- Coordination of optical/infrared policy with established radio policy / spectrum management processes;
- Facilitating proposals for new regulation, in coordination with national points of contact
- Impact assessments for astronomy
- Launch requirements
- Design requirements — mechanism for certifying that expectations are being met
- On orbit policies
- Horizon scanning/future focus topics.
Membership of the Policy Hub may include any individual or organisation interested in the legal aspects of the satellite constellations and their potential impact on the dark and quiet skies, including (but not limited to) astronomers, space lawyers, regulatory and policy experts, and spectrum managers.
Information Exchange and Raising Awareness
- Act as a repository for studies and policy-related information.
- Collect national space laws and regulations.
- Maintain awareness of key policy issues and processes in related fields.
- Host public forum/discussion panel etc. on a policy / legal topic.
- Host joint policy–industry forums.
- Maintain a common picture on required regulation.
- Develop an overarching policy roadmap for astronomy/constellations, from which national societies and observatories can draw inspiration.
- Develop example/draft regulatory requirements, without being specific to any country, giving a template for national societies.
- Act as central hub to gather consortia to apply for funding calls related to policy, legal, regulatory aspects.
- Host internships/research fellows.
- Pursue funding opportunities to commission studies on general policy topics.
- Coordination with the Industry Hub, to keep any specific regulatory requirements consistent with what is technically achievable and/or agreed as a best practice.
- Collaborate with the radio astronomy community working in ITU with topics related to space activities, such as monitoring satellite filings and supporting national groups.
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