Keio University Space Law Symposium I – Space Traffic Management


source: Keio University


The Keio University Space Law Symposium jointly organised with JAXA was held at Keio University on 25 February 2019.  There was a breadth of topics and speakers as follows:

モデレータ:小塚 荘一郎(学習院大学法学部教授)
Dr. Alexander Soucek(欧州宇宙機関 法務官、欧州宇宙法研究センター 研究員)
Mr. Niklas Hedman(国連宇宙部 政策・法務・委員会課長)
Professor Saadia Pekkanen(米国ワシントン大学教授)
佐藤 雅彦(JAXA 評価・監査部長)
新谷 美保子(TMI 法律事務所 弁護士)
高屋 友里(東京大学政策ビジョン研究センター 客員研究員)
増田 史子(岡山大学大学院 社会文化科学研究科教授)

The topic of space debris was an important topic of interest.  Not least because of environmental concerns, in accordance with Sustainable Develop goals and also because of space security concerns.

There was a concise summary of not just interpreting current laws, but also in relation to current practical policies and also on ITAR.  The audience was primarily from academia, students and practitioners and it is clear that more practitioners and even businesses need to be engaged in such discussions.

Some of the points also raised concerns about current space law policies, areas in which were worked on in the year, and one speaker summarised research areas of interest as follows:

  • ITU on international frequencies and orbital positions in ITU
  • Workings of COPUOS
  • Issues on guidelines for long term sustainability of outer space
  • issues on Space Traffic Management
  • PAROS – Prevention of an arms race in outer space
  • Issues on MILAOS

scientific america.png

source: Scientific American

Issues such as definitions and revisiting the topic of ‘Peaceful uses of Outerspace’ was a topic of great interest.  One of the speakers raised the issue of how some of the international treaties marry up with the Japanese Constitution where some of the challenges including definition of the scope and breadth of terms.

For example, for the term of active debris removal, current legislation may not be adequate.  Moreover, space debris could be considered a weapon, of course pending circumstances and judgement.

One of the representatives spoke from the floor from the Space Policy Department and mentioned the number of policies that they had in place in relation to Space debris removal.



Space Traffic Management

Mr. Yu Takeuchi of JAXA spoke on the Space Traffic Management system.  There is a crucial role for Space Situational Awareness.  Currently, there is a space surveillance network which is run by USSTRATCOM Combed Space OPeration Center (CSpOC) and via, they provide TLE through their website and allows for alerts through email to analyse data from satellite operators around the world.

Through SSA Sharing Agreements in which 12 nations, 2 international organisations and 20 commercial operators are engaged in, this military, governmental and commercial satellite operators provides for greater information sharing.

Mega constellations in Low Earth Orbit (LEO)  and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) could pose potential issues in relation to space traffic management.  As it is envisaged that there are increasing interests of companies in launching smallsats including OneWeb and SpaceX the observation systems on earth ought to be upgraded.  One would think that the earth observation systems would be updated.  One aspect that would be upgraded first would be the space fence, and currently being constructed in the Cayman Islands and are radar facilities that could detect smaller satellites.

The US Airforce currently tracks approximately 20,000 space objects.  The Space force will enable us to see 10x that amount with better accuracy, precision and timeliness.  Mr. Yu seems to suggest, however, whilst there is more precision in detecting debris, there could also be greater increases in false alerts.

dlr v1.jpeg

source: DLR

It is envisaged that spacial density after mega constellations and space fence would increase in concentration primarily in the 600-1000 altitude (km).  The argument for Space Traffic Management is necessary because of concerns of collision or reversely a desire for collision avoidance.  Satellites would need to go up or down in altitude otherwise, constellations may not work.  An example would be OneWeb’s vision.

STM is a concept of managing space activities as traffic.  Parallel with Air Traffic Management (ATM) or Maritime Traffic Management (MTM).



There appear to be varying definitions.  What are the elements of an STM?

There are primarily 3 elements:

  1.  The transition of services to civil operators from military to civil authority- it is foreseen that there would be a transition 
  2. There are issues of regulation of Newspace
  3. Space debris

Of these three main issues, there are some theoretical aspects of STM.  How does it look like?  How can it be legally analysed?

STM started with a Draft International Code of Conduct, there was a GGE on Space TCMB Report (2013 UNGA) and also GGE regarding PAROS.

Whilst there was a COPUOS Long-Term Sustainability of Space Activities draft guidelines, it was incomplete in 2018.  There is an IADC Megaconstllation statement, with ISO debris standards revision.

spacenews 1


In relation to STM there are a number of studies including:

  • IAA Cosmic study
  • ISU Studies
  • Authorised research in NASA Authorisation Act
  • STM Conference (ERAU) US Space ACt of 2015
  • GSTMW (UK)

In terms of events:

  • Chinese ASAT
  • Cosmos- Iridium Collision
  • US Space Strategy


asd europe

source: asd Europe


There are many legal issues in relation to STM

Areas include:

  • Jurisdiction to vehicle
  • jurisdiction to area
  • vehicle registration
  • sanction to registration
  • failure
  • traffic management rules
  • traffic management authority

In relation to ground concerns include:

  • territorial state, territorial jurisdiction, vehicle registration, denial of travel, road traffic rules and traffic police

In relation to maritime, there are concerns in relation to:

flag state, territorial sea, vessel registration, subject to capture by authority; denial of entry to ports, seaway, collision avoidance rules, maritime safety authority or military.

iata 1

source: IATA

In relation to aviation:

  • state of registry, territorial air jurisdiction, aircraft registration, denial of traffic navigation/landing passage, aerial route, aviation rules and civilian aviation authority.

In space however:

there is no jurisdiction.  For instance state of registration, space object registration and likely rules of traffic management rules would most likely be developed over time as likely common practices.

There appears to be no incentive to register or exercise power in relation to STM in outerspace.  The conclusion hence seems to be that we ought not to leave it to the states as it would not happen.  Rather it may well be the industry that could take the lead.

For instance the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations (CONFERS).  It is well known that Astroscale is working on debris removal and hence they and many other companies are actively engaging on guidelines.  Furthermore, such discussions are also held a the World Economic Forum.

What are the major challenges?

  1. Providing civil STM services – for instance how do businesses gather data from operators and how is the cost allocated?
  2. International sharing of SSA data – how can national security concerns be addressed?
  • how can data be neutralised
  • standardising of data, format would be necessary
  • data differentiation would be needed to identify what is neutral and what is classified data

3. Common rules for operators

  • What are the regulations for data sharing?


Hence the STM Study group aims to achieve the following:

  • Applies principles include a Chatham House rule-based;
  • no individuals goals, accepted diversity, allow repeated discusses
  • the purposes are to foster understanding on the issues of STM through diverse discussion
  • understanding why and what is difficult to realise STM


The message is clear, the industry ought to take the lead in relation to STM as States do not have incentives to move things forward.




(26-27 February @Austin, Texas).



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