Think Tank (4/2023)
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Cislunar Space Explorations, Space Sustainability, and Space Security – A Webinar Series
27 Jul 2023

The Future Issues and Technology (FIT) Cluster conducted three webinars on 25 May, 22 June, and 27 July 2023. They were “Fly Me to the Moon: Opportunities and Challenges in Cislunar Space and the Moon,” “Ensuring Safe and Sustainable Access to Space: Managing an Increasingly Congested Orbital Environment,” and “Whither Space Security? Reducing Space Threats and Preventing an Arms Race in Outer Space,” respectively. The events were facilitated by Mr Chris Leck, Adjunct Fellow of RSIS, and supported by the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) at RSIS.

The first webinar discussed opportunities through current and future cislunar activities, including National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s plans to go back to the moon in a more sustained, long-term way. Competition and supposed collaboration were also highlighted as driving forces of the renaissance of cislunar missions.

The panellists for the first webinar were Tala Atie, Manager, Space Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory; Michelle L.D. Hanlon, Co-Director, Centre for Air and Space Law, University of Mississippi School of Law; Garvey McIntosh, Asia Representative, NASA; and Matija Rencelj, Research Manager, European Space Policy Institute.

The second webinar tackled congestion in Earth’s orbit with the growing number of new space objects launched, and why managing this issue is crucial to future access to space. Also discussed were ongoing efforts from technical and regulatory bodies to mitigate and remediate space debris, to manage space weather risks, and to enhance space situational awareness and put in place space traffic management and coordination mechanisms to preserve dark and quiet skies, among others.

The panellists on the second webinar were Krystal Azelton, Director, Space Applications Program, Secure World Foundation; Nikolai Khlystov, Lead for Space, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum; Quentin Verspieren, PROTECT Accelerator Coordinator, Strategy and Transformation Office, European Space Agency; and Charity Weeden, Vice President, Global Space Policy and Government Relations, Astroscale US.

The third webinar examined the prospect of an arms race and the possibility of future conflict in space. Also discussed were counterspace capabilities being developed, the implications, and the constraints on their deployment.

For the last in this webinar series, panellists were Almudena Azcárate Ortega, Space Security Researcher at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR); Kuan-Wei (David) Chen, Managing Editor of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space; Victoria Samson, Washington Office Director for Secure World Foundation; and the discussant for the session was Tiana Desker, Director (Strategic Futures & Emerging Tech), Defence Policy Office, Ministry of Defence, Singapore.

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