International experts debate safe space future for humanity at University of Leicester

Insights into a safe future in space, from space tech in geopolitics to preventing harm to space assets, were presented at a conference at the University of Leicester.

40 experts, researchers, policymakers and industry professionals from around the world gathered at Space Park Leicester at the end of September to exchange knowledge on space security and safety, with another 60 registered to attend online.

The International Conference ‘Space Security and Safety Dimensions’ on Thursday September 28 and Friday 29 September provided a platform for participants to explore the challenges, opportunities, and advancements in the field of space security and safety. Critical topics such as space deterrence, future governance challenges for space activities, managing the area of our atmosphere termed the ‘Ignorosphere’, safety and protection to advance state interests, dark sky protection, collective security crises, space system's security horizon, and perspectives on gamification of space activity dominated the agenda.

Organiser Dr Inesa Kostenko, Fellow Researcher at the University of Leicester, said: “The conference not only convened experts from diverse geographies and fields but also fostered a pivotal dialogue crucial for our future in outer space. The discussion moved beyond mere academic discourse, delving into the intricate webs of policies and frameworks vital for safeguarding our celestial endeavours. The symphony of knowledge and perspectives curated here will certainly echo through our forthcoming initiatives, ensuring our journey through the cosmos is both secure and sustainable for generations to come.”

The two days were dedicated to presentations and comprehensive discussions involving all attendees as well as an excursion to explore Space Park Leicester opportunities, a networking session and refreshments and a visit to the National Space Centre.

A special issue of the Ukrainian journal ‘Advanced Space Law’ will be dedicated to the topics explored during the conference, with speakers and participants contributing their insights and research findings.

Dr Kostenko added: “A keynote lecture that garnered considerable attention was gracefully delivered by Professor Steven Freeland, illuminating the path on ‘Promoting Safety and Security: Challenges for the Future Governance of Space Activities’. His insights, richly bedded in both legal and ethical considerations for space activities, provided a critical lens through which participants could explore and reconsider the global collaborative frameworks that are crucial for navigating the multifaceted governance challenges that inevitably loom in space activities.

“The dialogue was particularly rich around the theme of the ‘Ignorosphere’ presented by Professor Christopher J. Newman, and space deterrence, explored by Dr. P.J. Blount. The topic on the impact of space on the War in Ukraine elicited robust discussion, shedding light on the acute relevance of space technology in contemporary geopolitical scenarios.

“We aim to educate, raise awareness, and encourage multidisciplinary approaches while facilitating networking and professional development. Our goal is to drive international cooperation, paving the way for holistic solutions.”