SXSW 2020

Space Traffic: Another Inconvenient Truth


Space commerce is a trillion dollar market for the taking. People are trying to launch as many satellites into space as quickly as they can with no regard for the potential implications. We are sending thousands of objects, designed never to return, into orbit. While there are specific space traffic highways agreed upon, there are no space traffic rules.
Tragedy of the Commons
This talk will focus on the current and predicted problems faced if space environmental protection laws aren’t put in place. The 21st Century’s Gold Rush is happening in space commerce. Left unchecked it will create, not just environmental problems, but also adversely affect services and capabilities we rely upon, such as communications, GPS and banking.

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  1. There are services and capabilities we depend upon daily that are provided by satellites sent to specific locations in orbit, known as space highways
  2. Most of what we launch never comes back. When something dies on the highway, it stays put, meaning the highways are becoming more and more congested.
  3. None of the satellites are protected from collisions. Unless we can protect the space environment, we could lose critical space services.



Moriba Jah, Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Austin

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Focus15
  • Track: Climate & Social Action
  • Track 2
  • Level: Advanced

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