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Space Safety Coalition Releases Updated Guidelines for In-Orbit Operations

By Rachel Jewett | April 10, 2023

Photo: NASA

The Space Safety Coalition released updated guidelines for sustainable space operations this month, endorsed by 27 companies and groups including The Aerospace Corporation, Avanti, Intelsat, LeoLabs, Planet, and Slingshot Aerospace

The Space Safety Coalition is an ad hoc group that promotes responsible space safety. Its new guidelines are updated from the last release in Sept. 2019. 

The guidance lays out best practices for space operators including encouraging spacecraft owners and operators to exchange collision avoidance information; sustainability in selecting launch vehicles; and rules of the road and maneuver prioritization. 

It also includes guidance to design sustainable constellations and post-mission disposal that satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) should re-enter the atmosphere at the most five years after the mission has completed, in line with recent FCC guidelines

The document references existing guidelines from Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) and the United Nations, but said these may not be sufficient with the increase in space traffic from constellations. 

Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Sur commented on signing the new guidelines: “Initiatives like the Space Safety Coalition are an important step towards establishing international best practices and guidelines to protect the space environment, but it is not enough. The clock is ticking, and real action is needed. National regulators everywhere should now use their powers of granting market access to require that satellite operators adhere to best practices like those outlined by the Space Safety Coalition,” Suri said.