By: Christopher P. Mulder and Julia Siegel

What is the kernel of the issue?

Outer space lacks the “rules of the road” that guide activity in the land, air, and sea domains. Chief of Space Operations General John Raymond has characterized the situation in space as akin to “the Wild, Wild West.”

Why is the issue important?

As the costs to launch continue to drastically fall, space is opening to new and more activity – with over 6,000 on-orbit satellites currently in existence – while governance is still reflective of a time with few spacefaring actors. By 2030, the number of satellites in space could quintuple. An increase in nations and industry launching space objects has led to unprecedented congestion, risking further satellite collisions and the creation of more space debris.

What is the recommendation?

The Biden administration should appoint a special presidential envoy for space. The envoy would energize the international space community and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs to socialize norms for responsible space behavior and lay a foundation for a comprehensive space order as space activity explodes over the next two decades.  

Related Experts: Christopher P. Mulder and Julia Siegel