September 2016 Space Security

URBOCOP: saving planet Earth

In this article for ROOM, the author uses a top down approach to address the growing problem of space debris in Earth orbit along with the ongoing threat to our planet from impacts with celestial bodies and potential military conflict in orbit.

Igor Ashurbeyli Igor Ashurbeyli Editor-in-Chief

In this article for ROOM, the author uses a top down approach to address the growing problem of space debris in Earth orbit along with the ongoing threat to our planet from impacts with celestial bodies and potential military conflict in orbit. Igor Ashurbeyli, President of the non-government and not-for-profit organisation ESSTD (Expert Society on Space Threat Defense), suggests that international integration and cooperation will ultimately prove a more important factor than the major technology challenges when it comes to protecting Earth from both natural and human-induced space dangers. As one bold solution he proposes an orbiting space platform called URBOCOP (Universal Robotic Battle Cosmic Platform) that would act as both sentry and, if the need arose, a first line of defence from any potential threat.

One of the top priorities for any person on Earth is protecting their home. But though we can change our regular home a few times during a lifetime, we cannot move away from the Earth - we will not be able to leave our home in space, our spaceship, in the foreseeable future.

The bad news is that our ship has no steering wheel, no brakes and no sails. So, let’s look at protecting our planet Earth from the dangers originating in space and suggest some of the international legal groundwork that will help us provide this protection.

The threat from space is very real and typically when we talk about aerospace safety we start at the bottom - air defence and ballistic missile defence - before looking higher and higher, as far as the technological, financial capabilities and geopolitical concerns of the moment will allow us to go.

I would like to take the opposite approach and begin at the very top - in deep space. Perhaps a middle ground of aerospace defence can be found by defining the defence of planet Earth - because, in the face of a global space threat, all of our ‘intra-planetary geopolitical squabbles’ will simply disappear.

Read more about URBOCOP and Igor Ashurbeyli's proposal for defending the Earth from threats originating in space in the full version of the article, available to our subscribers.

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