Space security is a hot-button topic, particularly for the U.S., Russia and China. The Bush administration has rejected any agreement that might limit the U.S.’s access to space, and China launched its own anti-satellite, or ASAT, weapon in 2007.
So the European Union (EU) just issued a draft Code of Conduct governing military and civil space operations, in a measure meant to strengthen the security of activities in outer space.
The basis for the Code of Conduct is to avoid “harmful interference” against space objects, and includes several provisions including:
* freedom of access to, exploration and use of outer space;
* the inherent right of the individual or collective self-defense in accordance with the United Nations Charter;
* the responsibility of [EU] States, in the conduct of scientific, commercial and military activities, to promote peaceful exploration and prevent outer space from becoming an area of conflict.
It’s supposed to provide rules for participating countries to play nice. But it’s voluntary. It’s got no teeth. That being said, the draft Code of Conduct is an opportunity for the EU to codify and formalize its own space policy. There are numerous treaties governing proper behavior beyond the atmosphere. The EU’s new policy is yet another public declaration that space security is at the top of everyone’s agenda.