The ITU Focuses on Space Sustainability as Satellite Numbers Increase

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is placing a strong emphasis on space sustainability as the number of satellites in orbit continues to grow. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, the secretary-general of the ITU, spoke about the potential risks of collisions between satellites and debris, which could hinder progress in enhancing global communications and bridging the digital divide.

It is essential to prioritize the sustainability of the space environment in order to protect valuable assets. While Bogdan-Martin did not provide specific details about planned efforts for space sustainability, major satellite operators welcomed the commitment. Eva Berneke, CEO of Eutelsat, emphasized the importance of sustainability and expressed a willingness to cooperate with regulators on new rules.

Mark Dankberg, CEO and chairman of Viasat, highlighted the need for sharing spectrum and space. He also mentioned the upcoming World Radiocommunication Congress (WRC), where discussing these issues would signify significant progress. Ruy Pinto, CEO of SES, expressed concerns about certain orbits becoming monopolized by single companies, citing SpaceX as an example. Pinto emphasized the need to ensure access to orbits and spectrum.

Bogdan-Martin acknowledged the critical role of the ITU in assigning spectrum and resolving disputes between satellite and terrestrial operators. She mentioned the upcoming WRC, during which new spectrum is expected to be allocated for space services. However, specific proposals for additional spectrum were not elaborated on.

While satellite industry executives expressed cautious optimism about the prospects of the WRC, they emphasized the importance of collaboration and unity among all stakeholders in the industry. The increasing demand for space services calls for a collective effort to ensure favorable outcomes in discussions and decisions related to spectrum allocation.

Overall, the ITU’s focus on space sustainability underscores the need to address the growing risks and challenges associated with the increasing number of satellites in orbit. Collaborative efforts between governments, regulators, and satellite operators will play a critical role in maintaining a safe and clean space environment for the future.