SUPERIOR, Colo.--If you remember the scene from Pixar's "Wall-E," in which a rocket ship on its way to humankind's space station blasts through a debris field of abandoned satellites, you may have wondered if anyone on Earth is working to prevent that from becoming reality.
The answer is yes.
Here in this small town not far from Boulder, Colo., the Secure World Foundation (SWF), a nonprofit unassociated with any government, is thinking about that kind of issue, as well as several others related to the fair use of space, and succeeding at getting its analysis and recommendations heard by decision makers around the world.
The Secure World Foundation is a nonprofit that is advocating for the fair use of outer space.
(Credit: Secure World Foundation)
"We promote the need for space governance," said Phil Smith, the Secure World Foundation's communications director, and help "establish effective systems of governance in outer space."
ISecure world is primarily interested in the following:
Space traffic management
Another main area of SWF's focus is on planetary defense, or the protection of Earth against asteroids, or comets, or other space junk that could appear out of nowhere, impact the planet and cause serious problems, up to and including massive species extinction.
The Association of Space Explorers, a group of former astronauts, is one group that is focusing on this issue, and has produced a report on how to deal with this issue at a policy level.
But again, the SWF gets involved at the international policy level, weighing in when asked by the U.N. about what to do with the astronauts' report. The idea is to prepare a plan so that if a hazardous space object is detected, we know what to do about it, rather than having to create a plan on the fly.
And that leads to a final area of the SWF's main focus: data sharing.
The SWF wants to ensure, Smith said, that everyone has access to data that can be collected by satellites about global vegetation growth, about the effects of global warming, as well as many of the issues discussed above.
While a small organization without major funding or direct involvement in any of the issues it studies, the SWF would seem to have limited power. But because it is consulted regularly by the United Nations and has contacts throughout the world, we can all hope that having a non-governmental nonprofit looking out for the fair use of space will help further that goal. After all, who else is going to argue for space?