Establishing Space Traffic Management Standards, Guidelines, and Best Practices

U.S. Space Policy Directive - 3 identifies the need for space traffic management (STM)-related standards, guidelines, and best practices to be developed to address a wide range of STM issues. The new space age requires new models, new technologies, and new rules and regulations. But what is the best way to arrive at new management practices?

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U.S. Space Policy Directive - 3 identifies the need for more than 40 different space traffic management (STM)-related standards, guidelines, and best practices to be developed to address a wide range of STM issues. This is driven by the rapid growth of space activity since the turn of the century and plans for breathtaking increases in space activity over the next 10 years.

However, tension exists between the government’s need for regulation to protect the safety, security, and sustainability of the space environment and industry’s desire to have minimal, clear, and consistent regulatory constraints. There are also tensions among rational but significantly different prioritization schemes, making it difficult for stakeholders to agree on a way ahead.

This paper describes why standards, guidelines, and best practices are important, assesses the completeness of those called out in SPD-3, identify gaps, and discusses how the United States and other stakeholders might prioritize their development.

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The Center for Space Policy and Strategy is dedicated to shaping the future by providing nonpartisan research and strategic analysis to decisionmakers. The CSPS is part of The Aerospace Corporation, a nonprofit organization that advises the government on complex space enterprise and systems engineering problems.

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