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Augustine Likes Space Debris Treaty


He's affable, writes well, is sharp as a tack and he's unemployed. He's also Norm Augustine, about as close as you get these days to the giants of the aerospace business like Curtiss, Hughes, Tripp and the guys who used their initials to start a cool company called TRW.

When this former CEO of Lockheed Martin, and recent head of the Augustine Committee charged with reviewing America's manned space flight plans, says a treaty on space debris is a good idea and that we have a "window" in which he thinks one can be cobbled together, it's worth listening.

Augustine made his brief remarks about a space debris treaty today during a panel organized by the Center for a New American Security (AKA the Obama administration's team in waiting) on "the global commons."

For those who may have missed it, concern about space debris exploded (sorry for the pun) when the Chinese destroyed an out of commission weather satellite in January 2007. That strike created roughly 10 percent of all space debris, increasing the risks to any human in orbit, as well as to satellites in low earth orbit.

Currently,the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee tries to encourage its members to limit the amount of debris they create. Also, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (known to space geek as COPUOS) keeps an eye on the issue. Neither one has much clout beyond moral suasion.

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