Danielle Wood will speak at AAAS 2023 on "Sustainable Use of Orbital Space for Science and Society." The synopsis of the panel is below:
"The recent, rapid expansion of commercial space companies has ushered in a new era for human use of the orbital space around Earth. One of the newer commercial interests in space is the deployment of large satellite constellations -- systems of hundreds or thousands of satellites to provide global internet and communication services. In 2019, SpaceX became the first to begin deploying one of these systems. The brightness of these satellites in the night sky and the planned scope of the constellation shocked astronomers, who scrambled to begin quantifying the impact on their science. Further study quickly revealed cascading challenges in space traffic management, debris mitigation, and environmental impacts associated with launch, orbit, and de-orbit operations as well. Just three years later, there are Federal Communication Commission (FCC) filings proposing more than 100,000 satellites and almost no regulation -- a growing international crisis for not just the future of ground and space-based astronomy, but for all scientific, commercial, and cultural use of Earth’s orbital space. This panel will discuss problems and possible solutions in the complex scientific, political, and human landscape surrounding commercial satellite constellations. It will consider the idea of low Earth orbit as a natural resource requiring careful stewardship and international cooperation, lest there is a repeat of the mistakes and inequities made while managing terrestrial resources."