Documents and Press

The OSI produces white papers, original research, and public communications, such as op-eds and interviews. We are just getting started, so while modest at the moment, expect this area to grow. Opinions expressed in the associated work are those of the authors, and do not reflect an official position of the OSI.

  • Outer Space Institute supports Net Zero Space Initiative (18 July 2022).
    • Read the OSI’s supporting statement here.
  • 'Unnecessary risks created by uncontrolled rocket reentries' in Nature Astronomy (2022). By Michael Byers, Aaron Boley, Ewan Wright and Cameron Byers. The article is published with open access here. Coverage of the article can be found at New Scientist, The Verge, Smithsonian Magazine, Cosmos Magazine, Global News, and more.

    • Abstract: Most space launches result in uncontrolled rocket body reentries, creating casualty risks for people on the ground, at sea and in aeroplanes. These risks have long been treated as negligible, but the number of rocket bodies abandoned in orbit is growing, while rocket bodies from past launches continue to reenter the atmosphere due to gas drag. Using publicly available reports of rocket launches and data on abandoned rocket bodies in orbit, we calculate approximate casualty expectations due to rocket body reentries as a function of latitude. The distribution of rocket body launches and reentries leads to the casualty expectation (that is, risk to human life) being disproportionately borne by populations in the Global South, with major launching states exporting risk to the rest of the world. We argue that recent improvements in technology and mission design make most of these uncontrolled reentries unnecessary, but that launching states and companies are reluctant to take on the increased costs involved. Those national governments whose populations are being put at risk should demand that major spacefaring states act, together, to mandate controlled rocket reentries, create meaningful consequences for non-compliance and thus eliminate the risks for everyone.

  • Statement by OSI Co-Directors on US ASAT Missile Test Ban
    • On 18 April 2022, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the United States would commit to not conduct destructive, direct-ascent ASAT (anti-satellite) missile tests. Read a statement by OSI co-directors Aaron Boley and Michael Byers on the development here.
  • OSI April 2022 Newsletter
    • The April 2022 newsletter provides updates on recent and upcoming OSI initiatives, highlights some media appearances and publications by the Fellows, and announces a new lecture series organized by the OSI and sponsored by MDA. You can view it here.
  • Canada and the Open-Ended Working Group on Reducing Space Threats (Webinar)
    • The Outer Space Institute organized a webinar February 10th on Canada and a new UN Open-Ended Working Group on "Reducing Space Threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours." The event was moderated by David Kendall and presentations were made by Paul Meyer, Jessica West, Sarah Thiele, Aaron Boley and Michael Byers. The texts of speakers Meyer and Kendall are available. A summary of the discussion segment of the webinar, which was held under the Chatham House rule, is available here. Program and biographical information on the speakers and moderator can be found here.
  • International Open Letter on Kinetic Anti Satellite (ASAT) Testing
    • The Outer Space Institute is pleased to publish the International Open Letter on Kinetic Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Testing, the second Open Letter coordinated by the OSI. This letter urges the UN General Assembly to take up consideration of a treaty that would prohibit conducting debris-generating anti-satellite weapon tests. The need for such a treaty is driven by very rapid growth in the number of satellites in orbit. The letter with an appended list of early signatories is available HERE.
    • The International Open Letter on Kinetic Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Testing is now open for additional signatures. Should you wish to add your name, please use the following form (link). The current full list of signatories is available here (link). Note: updates may take a few minutes to show.
    • In October 2021, the Centre for Global Law and Governance at the University of St Andrews hosted a roundtable discussion centred on the OSI’s international open letter on kinetic ASAT testing. Adam Bower (moderator) and panellists Michael Byers, Victoria Samson and Sarah Thiele breakdown the technological, scientific, legal and diplomatic context of the letter and consider additional prospects for regulating ASAT systems as well as the political limits to developing restratins. Watch it here: CGLG Roundtable — Banning Space Weapons?
  • Preliminary discussion on the 15 November 2021 Russian ASAT test
  • OSI November 2021 Newsletter
    • The November 2021 newsletter provides updates on recent and upcoming OSI initiatives, introduces several new OSI Fellows, and highlights select work and publications from over the past several months. You can view it here.
  • OSI April 2021 Newsletter
    • The April 2021 newsletter reflects on OSI activities over the past year and highlights some recent initiatives, public commutations and academic work by OSI Fellows. You can view it here.
  • Response to the CSA Request for Consultation on a Framework for Future Space Exploration
    • Aaron Boley and Sam Lawler have submitted a report and recommendations concerning the impacts of satellite mega-constellations on astronomy. The full report can be viewed here (link).
    • Upon signing the Artemis Accords, the Government of Canada announced a consultation process on a framework for space exploration. As per the call, "The Government of Canada is seeking views from industry, academia, non-governmental groups, and the general public to expand, refine, and solidify this framework to help ensure safe and sustainable space exploration for decades to come."
    • The OSI's response can be viewed here (link), which calls for a commitment to full multilateral negotiations, emphasizes the need for Canada to urgently develop its position on space exploration activities, and highlights several areas where Canada can take leadership roles.
  • International Open Letter on Space Mining and Signature Form
    • Important update: The OSI is pleased to see that the Legal Sub-Committee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has established a Working Group on Space Resource Utilization
    • The Outer Space Institute is pleased to publish the International Open Letter on Space Mining (link), which stresses the need for a multilateral agreement on the exploration, exploitation, and utilization of space resources and calls on states to present a resolution at the UN General Assembly that urges the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to negotiate a draft of such an agreement. The list of early signatories is appended to the letter.
    • The International Open Letter on Space Mining is now open for additional signatures. Should you wish to add your name, please use the following form (link). The current full list of signatories is available here (link). Note: updates may take a few minutes to show.
    • Globe and Mail press article about the letter can be found here (link).
  • Recommendations and Government Relations
    • Open Letter to the Canadian Government Concerning Space Resources
      • On 6 April 2020, the President of the United States signed an Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources wherein the U.S. Administration takes the unprecedented position that outer space is not a global commons. The following open letter strongly urges the Government of Canada to reiterate its policy that outer space is a global commons and work through multilateral forums to seek a widely-supported international agreement on how space resources should be recovered and used: PDF
    • The Vancouver Recommendations on Space Mining
      • In early March 2020, two dozen experts convened at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Brought together by the Outer Space Institute, they came from a wide range of countries and backgrounds, including government, industry, and academia. The composition of the group was very transdisciplinary, with representation from astronomy, planetary science, engineering, environmental science, international relations, and international law. The experts adopted the following Recommendations concerning space mining: PDF . The Recommendations were drafted in consultation with industry leaders, the CSA, GAC, and NRCan.
    • Salt Spring Recommendations
      • The Recommendations were adopted at an international workshop on ‘Space Debris and National Security’ on Salt Spring Island, Canada, on January 10 and 11, 2020. They reflect a consensus view, and should not be attributed to the individual participants. The workshop was convened by the Outer Space Institute and the University of British Columbia with financial support from the Canadian Department of National Defence and the Salt Spring Forum: PDF
  • Research Articles