The security of the space around our earth is an emerging international issue. The world is working now to figure out how to best manage space security and how to use space sustainably.
No country or group of countries can lay claim to outer space. But now that space is being used by humans more and more, it’s important the world comes up with ways to protect it.
Why does space security affect us?
While New Zealand is not yet a space-capable country, we’re increasingly dependent on space-based technologies such as satellites to power our economy. For example the internet, ATMs, some transport systems, telecommunications and weather forecasting all rely on space systems. As we become more dependent on them, we are also more vulnerable to their interference or destruction. For this reason, and the fact that space security is a growing issue of regional and international concern, New Zealand is joining the debate on how to manage and protect "near space".
What are the threats?
MFAT's work in space security is focussed in two areas – space debris and militarisation.
Space debris is made up of manmade objects that orbit the earth such as parts of disused satellites. Debris poses a threat because it can collide with functional space systems and damage or destroy them. The EU has been leading consultations on an internationally acceptable Space Code of Conduct for managing this space debris. These consultations are ongoing and New Zealand has joined them to ensure we protect our interests in space security.
Militarisation of space includes the potential to launch missiles from space. Many countries are concerned the major space states are developing technologies to do this.