The Senate has recently passed a bill known as the Orbits Act, aimed at addressing the issue of space debris. Introduced by a bipartisan group of Senators, including Maria Cantwell, John Hickenlooper, Cynthia Lummis, Roger Wicker, and Kyrsten Sinema, the bill has now moved to the House for further consideration.
The Orbits Act aims to tackle the problem of space debris by establishing a program for debris removal and implementing standard practices for orbital debris. Under this bill, the Department of Commerce Office of Space Commerce (OSC) would be directed to publish a list of the debris that poses the highest risk to spacecraft. Additionally, a NASA program would be initiated to demonstrate the process of debris removal.
Moreover, the Orbits Act seeks to promote consistent regulations related to orbital debris. It calls for a multi-agency update to ensure that regulations are streamlined and effective. Furthermore, the OSC, in collaboration with the National Space Council and Federal Communications Commission, would be tasked with encouraging space traffic management practices.
The issue of space debris is a growing concern, with nearly one million pieces of space junk passing over our heads every day. The Orbits Act aims to develop the necessary technologies to remove the most dangerous debris, thus preventing potential damage to scientific satellites, NASA missions, or harm to individuals on the ground.
This is not the first time that a bill aimed at reducing space debris has been presented. A similar bill was passed by the Senate in 2022, but did not make its way through the House. The passing of the Orbits Act demonstrates a continued effort to address this critical issue and protect the safety and integrity of space operations.