Astroscale U.S. applauds the release of the Orbital Sustainability Act of 2022 (ORBITS Act). It’s fitting that the bill was introduced yesterday on the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s “We Choose the Moon” speech, which championed U.S. innovation and the relentless pursuit of advanced science and technology endeavors “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Tackling orbital sustainability is definitely hard — but it’s essential to the security and stability of all space activity.
The ORBITS Act, from Senators Hickenlooper, Cantwell, Wicker, and Lummis, would establish a landmark demonstration program to reduce the amount of space debris in-orbit. If passed, the bill will fulfill over a decade of presidential policy and Congressional direction to pursue orbital remediation. The actions proposed by this Act would cement United States leadership among the international community in preserving the benefits of space for current and future generations.
About the ORBITS Act:
- The ORBITS Act is a bi-partisan bill from Senators Hickenlooper, Cantwell, Wicker, and Lummis that addresses the need for safe and sustainable operations in low-Earth orbit and nearby orbits from the increasingly dangerous amounts of orbital debris. The bill directs the NASA Administrator, in coordination with the National Space Council, to identify and make public the orbital debris that poses the greatest threat to the safety of orbiting satellites and other on-orbit activities.
- The ORBITS Act directs the Space Technology Mission Directorate within NASA to establish a new debris remediation program and authorizes $150M for fiscal years 2023 through 2027. It directs the procurement of orbital debris removal services through an open and honest competition.
- Lastly, the Act directs the relevant federal agencies to initiate a cadence of regular updates to the Orbital Debris Mitigation Standards and Practices (ODMSP), last revised in November 2019. However, multiple mega constellations have been launched or announced since that date, and at least two anti-satellite weapons, or ASAT, tests were conducted in low-Earth orbit
The ORBITS Act sets a strong foundation for a modern, more sustainable paradigm of operations in the space domain. As a pioneering company dedicated to in-space servicing across all orbits, Astroscale U.S. is excited to see the U.S. Senate lead the way on addressing orbital debris. This bill is a steppingstone in our nation’s path towards a brighter future space economy in which fully realized ADR capabilities work alongside other in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing (ISAM) capabilities to extend the value, efficiency, and operational lifetimes of space systems.
The United States’ leadership and action to ensure the safety and sustainability of Earth’s orbits is critical, and the removal of large debris objects will have an immediate and measurable impact, reducing the risk of catastrophic orbital collisions.