By Jamie Crawford
With fears of a catastrophic galactic collision mounting, the United States will join a transnational consortium aimed at making outer space a more navigable enterprise.
"Unless the international community addresses these challenges, the environment around our planet will become increasingly hazardous to human spaceflight and satellite systems, which would create damaging consequences for all of us," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a written statement Tuesday.
The United States will join the European Union and other nations to develop an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. When implemented, the code would establish an international framework for the responsible use of space.
With the number of satellites in space that keep everything from global commerce and daily communications moving to weather forecasting and global navigation, the danger of a collision in space has escalated over the past decade.
In her statement, Clinton said the long-term sustainability of space was now at "serious risk from space debris and irresponsible actors." China is likely one of those actors. Concerns over safety in space were raised in 2007 after China destroyed a weather satellite that had become disabled. The anti-satellite test created a huge cloud of orbital debris that some feared could collide with the International Space Station.
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little released a statement later in the day saying the Defense Department supported the concept of an international code of conduct for outer space activities. Little said the code could "enhance U.S. national security by encouraging responsible space behavior by reducing the risk of mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust."
The use of space by the United States is not without its controversies either. Just last week, an argument erupted between space bloggers about the purpose of a satellite that some said was meant for spying on China.
Any U.S. involvement in a space code of conduct would not come at the expense of national security-related activities in space, or abilities to protect the United States and its allies, Clinton said.
The United States is "committed to working together to reverse the troubling trends that are damaging our space environment and to preserve the limitless benefits and promise of space for future generations," Clinton said.