Status Report

SIA Releases Principles of Space Safety for the Commercial Satellite Industry

By SpaceRef Editor
October 22, 2019
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The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today announced the release of a set of Principles of Space Safety, drafted to help protect freedom of use and long-term access to space by ensuring safe flight operations for satellites, human spacecraft and other space missions. SIA is a U.S.-based trade association that for more than two decades has advocated on behalf of the U.S. satellite industry regarding policy, regulatory, and legislative issues affecting the commercial satellite business. 

In 2018, SIA applauded Vice President Mike Pence and the National Space Council for recognizing the importance of managing the increasingly congested space environment while announcing recommendations for a U.S. Space Situational Awareness Policy.  SIA also created a Space Sustainability Working Group to develop industry recommendations related to the Administration’s Space Policy Directive 3 regarding space traffic management and space situational awareness.

Space Sustainability Working Group co-chairs Jennifer Manner, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at EchoStar and Jennifer Warren, Vice President, Technology Policy & Regulation at Lockheed Martin Corporation provided the following statement. “As co-chairs of the Space Sustainability Working Group, we are pleased that SIA and its members have committed to principles on space sustainability that will assist in protecting the space domain for further commercialization, including enhancing safe flight operations for satellites, human spaceflight and other missions.”

SIA President Tom Stroup added, “SIA cannot over-emphasize the critical importance of space situational awareness and the need for the commercial satellite industry’s continued commitment to work with the Administration and collaboratively develop an effective policy for space traffic management and situational awareness.  Such a policy would ensure safe satellite and human flight operations while preserving and protecting America’s vital long-term leadership and innovation in the commercial satellite industry.”

In accordance with today’s newly announced principles, SIA members are committed to responsible space operations that ensure the long-term sustainability of the space domain and support the following space safety principles for all space stakeholders:

  • Collaborate with national space agencies and regulatory entities to implement, through appropriate mechanisms, the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Space Activities
  • Consistent with these principles, the UN guidelines and other best practices, SIA member companies seek to demonstrate best practices for the sustainability of space, to create positive incentives for participation by all space stakeholders.  SIA supports rating systems that assess and reward space safety practices of satellite stakeholders globally.
  • Work with national space agencies and regulatory entities to ensure that their spacecraft and related upper stages and mission debris are registered with the U.N. Office of Outer Space Affairs as soon as possible after launch.
  • Design, construct, and launch commercial Geostationary (“GSO”) and Non- Geostationary (“NGSO”) satellites that can easily be tracked by active or passive means.
  • Practice transparency through timely communication and sharing of Space Situational Awareness (“SSA”) information such as health & status information, orbital elements, maneuvers, spacecraft characteristics and radio frequency information to SSA providers and potentially affected satellite operators.
  • Support participation in the development of international standards which meet current and projected future data exchange needs.
  • Establish and maintain designated points of contact who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year, via redundant and resilient communications methods, to deconflict possible conjunctions and other space flight safety hazards.
  • Consistent with operational requirements and the projected significant increase in the number of spacecraft in all orbital regimes, endeavor to meet or improve upon minimum orbital debris mitigation standards for disposal or reentry of NGSO satellites.
  • Minimize the intentional creation of orbital debris, including debris generated as a by-product of satellite and launching systems (e.g.: optics covers, adapter rings or solar array retention cords that separate and become debris)
  • Consider space sustainability in the selection of a launch service provider.

Mitigate the impact of dead-on-arrival deployments through design characteristics such as:

  • Rigorous testing of satellite technologies; and/or
  • Deployment of demonstration satellites into fast-decaying or seldom-used altitudes.
  • Autonomous transponder systems that can broadcast a spacecraft’s position even if the host satellite has failed; and,
  • Active or passive means to remove a failed spacecraft safely from orbit.

  • In the cases of spacecraft which experience mission-ending failures, identify most likely root causes of any early in-orbit satellite failures and perform corresponding corrective actions before launching additional satellites.
  • Select spacecraft designs having appropriate passivation capabilities. Monitor operational spacecraft health and status to detect anomalies that may prevent successful disposal.  Develop mission rules to require disposal before mission ending failures.
  • Implement security protocols to prevent unauthorized actors from taking control of spacecraft or ground systems, or conducting economic espionage of a competitor’s satellite and ground system. 
  • Choose NGSO spacecraft and mission designs that limit impact to other space operators in the event that the spacecraft becomes derelict.
  • Minimize risks to persons and property on the ground from NGSO satellites by disposing of such satellites in accordance with current orbital debris mitigation guidelines.

About The Satellite Industry Association

SIA is a U.S.-based trade association providing representation of the leading satellite operators, service providers, manufacturers, launch services providers, and ground equipment suppliers. For more than two decades, SIA has advocated on behalf of the U.S. satellite industry on policy, regulatory, and legislative issues affecting the satellite business. For more information, visit

SIA Executive Members include: AT&T Services, Inc.; The Boeing Company; EchoStar Corporation; Intelsat S.A.; Iridium Communications Inc.; Kratos Defense & Security Solutions; Kuiper Systems LLC; Ligado Networks; Lockheed Martin Corporation; OneWeb; SES Americom, Inc.; Space Exploration Technologies Corp.; Spire Global Inc.; and Viasat, Inc. 

SIA Associate Members include: ABS US Corp.;  Airbus Defense and Space, Inc.; Analytical Graphics, Inc.; Artel, LLC; Blue Origin; Eutelsat America Corp.; ExoAnalytic Solutions; Globalstar, Inc.; Glowlink Communications Technology, Inc.; HawkEye 360; Hughes; Inmarsat, Inc.; Kymeta Corporation; Leonardo DRS; Lynk; Omnispace; Panasonic Avionics Corporation; Peraton; Planet; Speedcast Government; SSL; Telesat Canada; and XTAR, LLC. SIA Affiliate Members include: The Aerospace Corporation; AQYR Technologies; COMSAT; Comtech EF Data; Envistacom, LLC; Integrasys LLC, Kencast; NB+C; Newtec; Phasor; Radeus Labs, Inc.; RUAG Space; Sheppard Mullin; and Wiley Rein LLP

SpaceRef staff editor.