Superior (CO) – Many may be unaware there’s an organization called Secure World Foundation (SWF). It’s a private entity fostering cooperative and effective use of space exploration by all States to the benefit of the Earth, its security and mankind in general. In June 2008, SWF was granted permanent observer status to the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). They also chair the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). Primarily a research body, SWF is now looking to 2009 and the Obama administration and growing relationships with all member states.
The SWF is attempting to bring everyone involved with space efforts together at the same table, creating a dialogue for how space will be cooperatively used to benefit mankind.
One of SWF’s missions is engaging planetary resources to create a “secure Earth.” This is a concept of an Earth protected from near earth objects (asteroids), as well as the dangers mankind does to itself in space, such as creating the huge debris field of useless space trash now orbiting the Earth (damaged satellites). Figuring out how to prevent these things from continuing is a high priority, and one SWF believes only requires communication and a commitment to the Earth.
Cynda Collins Arsenault, President and co-founder of SWF, has said, “In our search for a secure world, we face many challenges and opportunities in 2009. Many issues loom in the foreground – the economy, the environment, poverty, health care, etc. In our interconnected world we can no longer understand or approach these problems in isolation … nor can we solve them with polarized views.”
Arsenault does say there are many signs of cooperation, new ideas and greater efficiency in world-wide space-faring collaborative efforts. A couple examples are the ISS, NASA’s recent use of India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter to take high-resolution 3D topography (slideshow image 6 of 20) of the moon’s surface, and there are many more related to administration – such as working together to create sustainable orbits that do not affect other efforts.
In 2008, SWF began work on several fronts which will continue in 2009. These are:
1) Presenting a white paper of findings to the UN Security Council relating to the danger our planet faces from incoming asteroids. The white paper also outlined the mechanisms currently in place, and those needed to address this real threat.
2) Recognizing that a Space Activity Code of Conduct is absolutely essential first step for the international community to agree upon. Such a model would allow all space activity to be guided by a common body.
3) Following the 2008 election of President Obama, SWF has presented the incoming Obama administration with several white papers detailing current efforts. SWF recognizes that cooperation with the United States and the Obama administration will be essential.
4) Working with France and their recent informal working group, which serves to explore the “best practices” for a sustained outer space effort.
5) Working with governments and private companies engaged in launching satellites into orbit, and specifically for the purposes of bringing them together. In 2008, representatives from these groups met in Rome to discuss the “embryonic effort,” of creating a data center to share all satellite tracking data. This would essentially create a one-stop-shop location for information about all orbiting satellites, their track, position, current state, etc.
In 2009, the SWF will continue its early work and will begin focusing on additional practical problems – such as the orbital debris field, ever-crowded orbits and the lack of sufficient governance mechanisms for the “problem solving” of these related issues. Dr. Ray Williamson, SWF’s executive director, is looking to create an “action-oriented agenda” for 2009, including planetary defense and the international policies needed for
Williamson highlights four major accomplishments in 2008. These include permanent observer status with COPUOS; being admitted to COPUOS Action Team 14 (which works with near earth objects); establishing a space security committee in the IAF; and developing relationships with China and Latin American officials on “space policy development.”
The Earth is moving into a new era. The advancement of technology, computer resources and the discovery of new materials over the past 50+ years, have now created the true beginnings of man and his continued efforts toward space exploration. Bodies like SWF are essential for keeping everything in check. And, barring some kind of war or natural disaster, it is clear that man’s eyes are focused on conquering the moon, Mars and ultimately the entire solar system.