Satellite collision reflects necessity for int’l laws: Russian expert

15 02 2009

Source: Peoplesdily online

The collision between a Russian satellite and a U.S. satellite highlights the growing importance of making international laws to monitor human activities in space,a Russian military expert told Xinhua in an interview on Friday.

The root cause of the Russia-U.S. satellite collision is the lack of international rules on space activities, said Leonid Ivashov, the president of Russia’s Academy on Geopolitical Affairs.

No matter whether Tuesday’s collision is intentional or not, it would further strain the tensions in the space situation, and even lead to the use of force, whose consequences will be very grave, Ivashov said.

He expressed concern over new challenges faced by the international security system as a result of the first-ever crash of two intact spacecrafts in orbit.

In fact, such challenges have long existed, Ivashov said, noting that a spy satellite destroyed by the United States last year might have been carrying radioactive substances. In his view, there is a trend of militarization in space activities nowadays.

It is of great urgency to take comprehensive measures, including the establishment of space management networks, so that human activities in space will be supervised and coordinated properly, he said.

The Russian expert also called on the countries which have sent spacecraft into orbit to take due responsibility.

Ivashov described Russia and China’s proposal to enact international laws on space as “necessary” and “pressing,” suggesting the two countries continue to make efforts in this regard to facilitate the formation of international agreements.

A framework document should be approved in the first place, embodying the guidelines for human activities in space and restricting the liftoff of satellites with nuclear reactors, he said.

Satellites powered by nuclear energy can be traced back to a long time ago and they generally serve military purposes, he explained.

As solar batteries cannot provide satellites with enough momentum, nuclear reactors are used to supply reliable and durable energy, he said.

But the problem is that it would be very hard to figure out if there are satellites equipped with nuclear reactors in space from Earth, Ivashov said. Both Russia and the United States now have such kind of satellites, he said.