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The United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space
Historical Overview : General Assembly resolution 1721 B (XVI) u u u In fact there are two separate, yet complementary registers on objects launched into outer space. First register established in 1961 in accordance with GA resolution 1721 B (XVI) of 20 December 1961. Still used to disseminate information received from Member States who are not party to the Registration Convention. u The most recent submission was from Nigeria in 2004. (A/AC. 105/INF. 411) As of 1 January 2005, OOSA has issued 411 documents under GA resolution 1721 B (XVI) containing registration data on nearly 6, 000 space objects. Voluntary registration information has been provided by Algeria, Brazil, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Nigeria, Turkey, and the Philippines. This presentation will focus on the Register established under the Registration Convention.
Registration Convention u u Adopted by the UN General Assembly: 12 November 1974 (resolution 3235 (XXIX)), u Opened for signature on 14 January 1975, entered into force on 15 September 1976, u Supersedes General Assembly resolution 1721 (XVI) B of 20 December 1961. As of 1 January 2005, there were 45 ratifications and 4 signatures: u Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burundi (Signature only), Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran (S), Japan, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nicaragua (S), Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Singapore (S), Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Yugoslavia. u Most recent ratification by Greece in May 2003. Two international organizations have declared their acceptance of rights and obligations: u European Space Agency (ESA); and u European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) As of 1 January 2005, OOSA has issued 462 documents containing registration data on over 7, 000 space objects. u The most recent registration document published was from Germany in December 2004 (ST/SG/SER. E/462).
Function of the United Nations Register on Objects Launched into Outer Space u The main function of the Register is to: u u u “make provision for the national registration by launching States of objects launched into outer space” serve as a “central register” of objects launched into outer space “provide for State parties additional means and procedures to assist in the identification of space objects”
Few facts about the UN Register u u u Article III of the Registration Convention requires: u The Secretary General shall maintain a Register in which information furnished in accordance with article IV shall be recorded"; u “There should be full and open access to the information in this Register". The Register established at the Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) on behalf of the Secretary General. u first document ST/SG/SER. E/1 issued on 14 April 1977. u contains information on space objects launched by the United States of America as of 31 December 1976. As of 1 January 2005, OOSA has issued 462 documents containing registration data on over 7, 050 space objects under the Registration Convention. In addition, the Office continues to maintain, and transmit to COPUOS, registration information furnished by member States on a voluntary basis in accordance with GA resolution 1721 (XVI) B of 20 December 1961. u Such information appears in document series A/AC. 105/INF. 1 -411. Most recent notification by Nigeria (A/AC. 105/INF. 411) in August 2004. All registration information is maintained by the Office in printed and electronic form and is updated on a regular basis. u Total number of space objects in the electronic Registers at 1 January 2005 is 12, 100. Figure includes duplicate registrations and functional and non-functional objects. u About 6, 000 are still orbiting around the Earth.
Box-score of objects registered in accordance with the Registration Convention and GA resolution 1721 B (as of 1 January 2005) State of Registry Number of registered space objects Algeria (voluntary registration) 1 Japan Argentina 5 Korea, Republic of 8 Australia 7 Luxembourg (voluntary registration) 8 Brazil (voluntary registration) 2 Malaysia (voluntary registration) 3 Canada 9 Mexico 2 Chile 1 Nigeria (voluntary registration) 1 China 45 Pakistan 1 Philippines (voluntary registration) 1 Czech Republic (incl. Czechoslovakia) ESA EUMETSAT France* Germany Greece India* Israel (voluntary registration) Italy (voluntary registration) 6 45 2 535 28 1 43 2 11 Russian Federation (including USSR) Spain Sweden 89 3, 173 6 10 Turkey (voluntary registration) 1 Ukraine 1 United Arab Emirates 1 United Kingdom United States of America* * Parties who provide registration data on non-functional objects 29 8, 020
Complementary Nature of the two UN Registers u u u After the entry into force of the Registration Convention, States began providing information on space objects from that period However, in some cases States can provide additional information (ie. decay date) of a space object registered under GA resolution 1721 B (XVI) Some States have re-registered all their space objects under the Registration Convention. Most recent example: France (ST/SG/SER. E/445) u u In such cases, the space objects are removed from the resolution-established Register and placed in the Convention Register. A notation that the object was formerly registered in the Resolution Register is made. Information provided by Member States under GA resolution 1721 B (XVI) since 1976 are similar to that provided by States in accordance with the Registration Convention Non-functional objects 56% Functional objects 44%
Application of Article I of the Registration Convention u Definition of space object: u u "The term "space object" includes component parts of a space object as well as its launch vehicle and parts thereof” Practice u Practices of parties providing information can be broken down into three classes: u The first class is where parties provide information on all space objects, including nonfunctional objects and objects that are generated during and after launch. This includes objects generated through impacts, explosions, etc. u The second class provide information on functional objects and non-functional objects (such as third-stages) that are produced during or just after launch. They do not include information on objects created after the launch phase. u The third class provide information on functional objects only. This practice is observed by most other parties to the Convention. Non-functional objects 56% Functional objects 44% Present situation: of objects registered, 56% are nonfunctional (rocket stages, shrouds, etc. )
Application of Article II of the Registration Convention u State of Registry : u u u "State of registry" means a launching State on whose registry a space object is carried. (Article I, (c)) “Where there are two or more launching States in respect of any such space object, they shall jointly determine which one of them shall register the object” (Article II. para. 2) Practice u Some space objects are registered by more than one State: u u Argentina & USA: SAC-B (1996 -061 A), SAC-C (2000 -075 B) India & USA: Insat 1 A and its launcher (1982 -031 A and B, 1983 -089 C), Insat 1 D (1990 -051 A) ESA & EUMETSAT: MSG-1 (2002 -040 B) Russian Federation & USA: Reflektor (2001 -056 E) Some space objects are registered by one State in accordance with the Convention, and another States under GA resolution 1721 B (XVI) Not registered 7% Registration of space objects is sometimes overlooked where more than one State is involved u u Registered by GA Res. 1721 B 38% Registered by Registration Conv. 55% ISS module “Zarya” has not been registered Approximately 7% of functional objects have not been registered under Registration Convention or GA res. 1721 B. u
Application of Article II of the Registration Convention (continued) u Change of Ownership u Increasingly common, especially for GSO satellites. u Usually not reported to the United Nations u Registration Convention has no specific provision for this. u Some States do not consider themselves State of registry for space objects acquired in orbit by commercial entities incorporated within their territory u Examples: UK and Inmarsat satellites (ST/SG/SER. E/417/Rev. 1); and, The Netherlands and New Skies Satellites’ space objects (A/AC. 105/806 & 824)
Application of Article IV of the Registration Convention u Information should be "furnished as soon as practicable". u u Therefore, there is no time limit for submission Registration can take between weeks to years. Average time: two to three months Practice u Some parties (especially those who operate launch vehicles for their own use or for customers) provide information on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis. u Other parties provide information on a less frequent basis. This practice can range from immediately after the launch to information on all objects launched during the previous year. u The United Nations has also received information on space objects prior to their launch. In these cases, the Office keeps the information on file and after launch confirms the information before issue as a registration document.
Application of Article IV of the Registration Convention (continued) u Information provided: Basic overview u Information to be furnished to the United Nations by parties to the Registration Convention (Article IV para. 2): u u (a) (b) (c) (d) u u u name of launching State or States; an appropriate designator of the space object or its registration number; date and territory or location of launch; basic orbital parameters, including: (i) nodal period; (ii) inclination; (iii) apogee; (iv) perigee; (e) general function of the space object. Article IV, para. 3 requires “[e]ach State of registry shall notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to the greatest extent feasible and as soon as practicable, of space objects concerning which it has previously transmitted information, and which have been but no longer are in earth orbit”
Application of Article IV of the Registration Convention (continued) 1. u Appropriate designator of the space object or its registration number: Practice u u u All parties provide common names for their space objects (recent development in States’ registration practices) Some parties use the COSPAR international designator: nominally assigned by the World Wide Agency on Satellite Information on behalf of COSPAR. Some parties provide designators based on entries in their national registry. In these cases, the common name is also provided. Some parties also use a designator assigned in a catalogue maintained by the United States of America’s Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), a catalogue based on observational/radar data formerly maintained by USSPACECOM and made available through the NASA Orbital Information Group. Issues u u u In some cases, the description of requested information is too vague, resulting in different interpretations. Different way of spelling can create problems in identifying objects. Use of generic names also create problems identifying a particular object.
Application of Article IV of the Registration Convention (continued) 2. Date of the launch u Practice u u u Some parties use Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) also called Universal Time, Coordinated (UTC). Some parties use local time at the place of launch. Issues u u Some difficulty in identifying space objects based on local time of launch. Identifying a space object when the time registered may be +/- 1 day out. 3. Territory or location of launch: u Practice u u Some parties provide location and territory of launch, especially if the object is launched from the territory of another State. Other parties do not provide information on the location and territory of launch when a space object is launched from another State.
Application of Article IV of the Registration Convention (continued) 4. Basic orbital parameters: Information required (Article IV, para. 2): u Nodal period: the time to complete one orbit u Inclination: the angle made by the object’s orbit relative to the Earth’s equator u Apogee: the greatest distance of the space object’s orbit from the Earth’s surface u Perigee: the closest distance of the space object’s orbit to the Earth’s surface General observations u There are no standardised units (ie, km, minutes, degrees) for reporting the orbital parameters. u u The parameters technically refer to objects orbiting the Earth, apogee/perigee refer to the Earth. The orbital parameters do not convey information for objects in geostationary Earth orbit. Space objects in this orbit, by definition, have very similar orbital parameters. u The unique basic parameter for an object in GSO would be its location relative to the Equator, normally stated as longitude degrees East or West. u In the majority of cases, GSO positions are registered with the ITU and are in the public domain. u Of the 23 Parties that register space objects in GSO, 8 do not provide GSO locations
Application of Article IV of the Registration Convention (continued) 4. Basic orbital parameters (continued): u Practice: u u u Some States provide initial orbit, others intermediate (parking) orbit and still others the final operational orbit. Units used for orbital parameters (km, minutes, degrees) can vary Data on apogee, perigee - usually provided are heights above the Earth surface, but sometimes distance from the centre of the Earth (difference of 6, 378 km!). Orbital data is sometimes also provided on objects beyond Earth’s orbit, such as interplanetary probes; Some parties provide the location in GSO. Issues u u Orbital data may not always reflect a space objects operational orbit (ie. , objects that are in GSO may be registered with a transfer orbit) Different units (ie. km/miles/AU, minutes/days) are used for reporting the orbital parameters.
Application of Article IV of the Registration Convention (continued) 5. General function: u Practice: u u Some States provide generic functions with minimal information content Other parties provided detailed information including frequency plans, etc.
Application of Article IV of the Registration Convention (continued) 6. Provision of additional information: u u Practice: u u Article IV, para. 2 states that “[e]ach State of registry may, from time to time, provide the Secretary-General of the United Nations with additional information concerning a space object carried on its registry” Used to provide additional information on space objects in orbit Used to provide information when a satellite ceases function. Used also to report the impending reentry of space objects Used in conjunction with NPS principles to provide emergency information concerning the possible decay of satellites Issues u Not always used by Parties. Could be used for space objects moved to graveyard orbits, etc.
Application of Article IV of the Registration Convention (continued) 7. Reentry of space objects: u u Practice: u u u Article IV, para. 3 requires parties to notify the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to the greatest extent feasible and as soon as practicable, of space objects concerning which it has previously transmitted information, and which have been but no longer are in Earth orbit. Some States provide actual date of reentry on a specific basis Other parties provide information on a monthly basis (ie, an object ceased to exist by the end of the month). Issue: u Non-specific dates of decay can hamper the ability to identify a space object that has returned to Earth.
Application of Article VII of the Registration Convention Applicability to international organisations u u Practice: u u u Article VII, "Reference to States shall be deemed to apply to any international intergovernmental organization which conducts space activities if the organization declares its acceptance of the rights and obligations. . . and if a majority of the States members of the organization are States parties to this Convention and to the [Outer Space Treaty]“ Two intergovernmental organisations have declared acceptance to the Registration Convention u European Space Agency (ESA); and u European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) Satellites operated by EUTELSAT are registered by France. Issues u Some space objects presently being operated by intergovernmental organizations are still unregistered.
Non-registration of space objects u u Of the approx 5, 730 functional space objects launched, 390 have not been registered. 82% of these objects were launched after 1976. Of the 39 Member States that have launched/operated space objects, 7 do not provide information to the UN Issues u Presence of multiple parties may result in non-registration u Some space objects operated by present and former intergovernmental organizations have not been registered u Intelsat satellites u Inmarsat satellites (UK does not consider itself State of registry) u Some space objects that comprise low-Earth orbit communications constellations have not been registered u Globalstar: approx. 50% not registered u Iridium: approx. 20 % not registered u Interpretation that Registration Convention applies only to objects launched after becoming Party u Space station modules
Conclusions u u u The United Nations Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space is the sole source of information provided by governments and international organisation on all types of space objects. All States involved in the launching or operation of space objects should be party to the Registration Convention; Where a space object’s launch and operation involves several States, parties should remember to determine who is the State of Registry Disparity exists in the format and content of information provided between parties registering space objects. This can cause difficulties in positively identifying a space object based on information provided. Harmonisation of information provided would assist the function of the Register: u Use COSPAR International Designator u Use GMT/UTC u Use kilometers, minutes and degrees as standard units u Final operational orbit of a space object Additional information that would be useful to facilitate the maintenance of the Register : u GSO location u Date of decay/re-entry based on GMT/UTC u Web-link to official information on space object u Notification when a space object is no longer “functional”/moved to graveyard orbit