Thursday, May 04, 2017

The 14th Annual Space Security Working Group Workshop

          By Chuck Black

Those attending the 8th Joint Planetary and Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium (PTMSS) & Space Resources Roundtable (discussed in the May 1st, 2017 post of the same name) weren't the only rocket scientists in Montreal for a space conference this week.

The boardroom of the Best Western Ville Marie Hotel in Montreal, where participants at the The 14th Annual Space Security Working Group got down to business on May 2nd & 3rd. The meeting was held under Chatham House rules where, as outlined on the Royal Institute of International Affairs Chatham House website, "participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed." The intent is to provide anonymity to speakers and "encourage openness and the sharing of information." Photo c/o Best Western Ville Marie Hotel.

The 14th Annual Space Security Working Group Workshop also took place in Montreal on May 2nd - 3rd.

The workshop reviewed and assessed data collected from a variety of international sources for inclusion in the upcoming 2017 Space Security Index (SSI), a joint research project of the Simons Foundation, the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University, the Research Unit for Military Law and Ethics at the University of Adelaide, the School of Law at Xi’ian Jiaotong University, and Waterloo, Ontario based Project Ploughshares, with cooperation from the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

The cover of the 2016 SSI. Graphic c/o SSI.
As outlined on the Space Security Index (SSI) website, the annual SSI is:
...the first and only annual, comprehensive, and integrated assessment of space security. 
Based on seventeen indicators of space security, it provides background information and in-depth analysis on key trends and developments in the space field.
Unlike the terrestrial and space mining community, which was out in force at the PTMSS and Space Resources Roundable, the organizations involved with the SSI report are guided by a highly specific, very legalistic definition of the term "space security," which provides them with a different, but perhaps equally valid perspective, on the the high frontier.

According to the 2016 SSI executive summary:
The definition of space security guiding this report reflects the intent of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that outer space should remain open for all to use for peaceful purposes now and in the future. 
The key consideration in this SSI definition of space security is not the interests of particular national or commercial entities, but the security and sustainability of outer space as an environment that can be used safely and responsibly by all. 
This broad definition encompasses the security of the unique outer space environment, which includes the physical and operational integrity of man made objects in space and their ground stations, as well as security on Earth from threats originating in space. 
The meeting is part of the broader program, which aims to improve transparency on space activities and provide a common, comprehensive and objective knowledge base to support the development of national and international policies that contribute to the security and sustainability of outer space.

In essence, they're mostly a bunch of space lawyers.

It's worth noting that a number of national jurisdictions have begun to legislate changes to encourage space mining companies. As outlined in the Apr 24th, 2017 Science Times post, "Asteroid Mining Campaign: Luxembourg Offers Enticing Opportunities for US Entrepreneurs From Silicon Valley,"the latest effort emanates from Luxembourg, which "is now making a proposal for worldwide companies for their futuristic Space mining Campaign." Small nations make these proposals in an effort to encourage mining companies to relocate their corporate offices within national borders where they can be taxed and contribute to a nation's gross domestic product. Screenshot c/o

And at least one other group was also meeting in Montreal this week.

As outlined in the Space Advisory Board website, the "talented and diverse individuals from industry, the academic and research communities, and the not-for-profit sector" appointed to the Federal government Space Advisory Board and tasked to develop "a new vision for Canada’s space sector and define key elements of a strategy that will be launched this summer," are meeting in Montreal on Friday, May 5th.

That meeting, intended to take submissions from Canadians to "develop a new vision with the Canadian Space sector and define key elements of a strategy to be launched this summer." should take a look at both the structured lawyers and academics who belong to the Space Security Working Group, who are looking to create rules and regulations before we even get into space, and the cowboy space miners from PTMSS, who think that everything will work itself out just fine once someone lands on an asteroid and reminds us that "possession is nine-tenths of the law."

Here's hoping that the Federal Space Advisory Board is able to consider and assess the presentations from both groups. The future of the Canadian space industry might just depend on it. 
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

1 comment:

  1. Space cowboys??? Never thought of myself that way. But now I can say with true enthusiasm " giddy up Canada. We got asteroids to herd and and thar's gold in them thar hills and them pesky yanks ( and luxemburgians) are a jumpin all my claims"


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