March 21, 2018

Report ETIATalks – Waste in Space – is Space wasted? on February 27th, 2018

This high level, student organized panel discussion focused on elaborating efforts on practicing space debris mitigation measures while discussing the dangers of uncontrolled space debris assimilation. The talk was moderated by Edward Burger, Researcher at the European Space Policy Institute.

The following international experts were invited to discuss the topic:

•    Niklas Hedman, Chief of the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section, UNOOSA, Secretary of COPUOS and its two Subcommittees
•    Cenan Al-Ekabi, Resident Fellow at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI)
•    Michael Kenn, Space Physics Department, Center of Medical Statistics, Informatics, and Intelligent Systems (CeMSIIS), Technical University Vienna

Mr. Hedman focused on analyzing the legal responsibilities of the operator, and laid out the issue of liability by public and private operators. He explained that outer space is an area where information has to be enhanced among the nations and countries have to understand that they all have to work together to create a better information exchange as well as cooperation between different actors. “Everything is possible and everything is impossible – it depends on the motivation of the individual countries”. 
He also added that a space traffic management system needs to be introduced.

Mr. Kenn gave the audience an inside into the physics in the orbit. He defined soft collisions, as well as high inclination, which both can have a large impact and stated that debris spread in the orbits need to be tracked by a tracking system capable to track small objects as well as large ones. 

Mr. Al-Ekabi, brought the investor´s aspect into the discussion. The stated that commercial outer space operators need to find a business model, which works and produce some profit. He argued that cleaning up the outer space can be an opportunity to earn some money and to some “good” for the outer space. He stated th

at commercial outer space usage could be used as templet for a self-regulatory regime.
The experts gave a general introduction, followed by a detailed analysis of space debris mitigation measures from the perspective of their respective fields, law, politics, economics, and technical physics.

More than 70 participants from international organizations, respective Permanent Missions, and students attended this event.

For more information, and a more detailed report please visit


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