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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton   (Source:
Hillary Clinton assures that the code of conduct will not keep the military busy or compromise national security

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Tuesday that the United States will begin working on an international code of conduct for outer space with other nations around the world.

An international code of conduct would put concrete space-related rules in place for all participating nations. According to Clinton, the main threats that the rules would address are space junk and "irresponsible actors."

There are currently more than 500,000 pieces of space junk debris surrounding Earth, according to NASA, and about 22,000 of these pieces are as large as a softball. Only about 1,100 are active satellites. Space junk is the collection of objects created by humans that are left in orbit, but are no longer useful.

Clinton sees this space junk as potentially harmful, and for good reason. Just last month, a Siberian man escaped death as a Russian satellite fragment crashed right through his roof. The fragment was about the size of a 5 kg titanium ball.

In addition, Russa's Mars probe Phobos-Grunt finally crashed back to Earth on January 15 after floating around in space aimlessly for two months.

The new code of conduct announcement also addressed "irresponsible actors," which likely indirectly referred to China's space behavior back in 2007 when it destroyed a dead weather satellite with a rocket. In late 2011, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) released a report that warned the U.S. of China's plans to attack U.S. space defenses. This has since worried the U.S., and raised questions regarding the potential need for a space military.

"The threats to the space environment will increase as more nations and non-state actors develop and deploy counter-space systems," said the State Department's fact sheet. "Today, space systems and their supporting infrastructure face a range of man-made threats that may deny, degrade, deceive, disrupt or destroy assets."

The U.S. also noted that the European Union has developed a space code, which it has been working on for many years, but that the U.S. isn't quite ready to agree to it yet.

"A code of conduct will help maintain the long-term sustainability, safety, stability and security of space by establishing guidelines for the responsible use of space," said Clinton. "As we begin this work, the United States has made clear to our partners that we will not enter into a code of conduct that in any way constrains our national security-related activities in space or our ability to protect the United States and our allies."


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RE: Weapons in space
By Solandri on 1/19/2012 12:48:18 PM , Rating: 2
Putting something into low earth orbit costs about $3,000-$10,000 per pound. Almost any weapon can be delivered more cheaply via ground, sea, or air. Even the satellite killing missiles are cheaper launched from a plane into a ballistic trajectory (so they don't have to reach orbital velocity), rather than parking them in orbit.

RE: Weapons in space
By bh192012 on 1/19/2012 1:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
That depends on a few things, like how you're going to disable other satellites. A "weather satellite," that just so happens to have a lot of solar panels, big batteries and a big laser could buy you some plausible deniability that a direct missile could not. Also it can have multiple shots. It would also make less of a mess than a missile shot.

RE: Weapons in space
By tastyratz on 1/19/2012 2:10:16 PM , Rating: 3
GDI had it right when developing the ion canon. All fear.

RE: Weapons in space
By TSS on 1/20/2012 11:15:34 AM , Rating: 2
Thing is though you can kill anything on the sea/ground/air from the sea/ground/air.

Put a laser point-defence sattelite in orbit and you're not going to shoot it down from the ground. Such systems already exist for on the ground, and in space atmospheric disturbance and fuel (atleast electricity) are far smaller problems then they are on the ground.

Then it's just a matter of choosing your method of destruction for on the ground. Personally i would go for a massive railgun. You could make a UAV resupply drone for the ammunition. Long range energy weapons are still too far away.

RE: Weapons in space
By Paj on 1/23/2012 7:32:10 AM , Rating: 3
Theres problem with that approach though. How would you test it? Would be difficult to test a massive space to ground laser without anyone noticing.

How would you maintain it? The US would struggle, having no reusable spaceborne vessel anymore. Same problem with kinetic ammunition if that's what it would use. Maintenance/refuelling would be frightfully expensive.

They're struggling enough trying to build a new plane. Easier/cheaper to just launch a cruise missile.

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