“People in orbit are cosmopolitans”: videoconference on space diplomacy

A teleconference “Space Diplomacy” took place in Moscow, Samara and Paris, where representatives of the Russian private space program, students and the famous French cosmonaut Jean-Loup Chrétien took part.

The broadcast was organized as part of the track “Current trends in the development of space diplomacy” of the II International Scientific and Practical Conference “Digital International Relations 2023”, which is being held these days at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).

Students from MGIMO and Samara National Research University named after Academician Sergey P. Korolev discussed issues of ensuring the safety of space research and the peaceful use of outer space. At the same time, the focus was on the history of Russian-French relations in the field of space exploration.

As Asya Ovchinnikova, an employee of the Russian House of Science and Culture in Paris (Rossotrudnichestvo), recalled, the first agreement between the USSR and France was signed in 1966 and led to the fact that Soviet launch vehicles launched two French satellites, and the French cosmonaut Jean-Loup Chrétien, who flew on a Soviet spaceship, became a Hero of the Soviet Union. “In 2023, Rossotrudnichestvo celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Soviet-French Salyut-7 mission and the 30th anniversary of the Russian-French Antares mission,” she added.

The expert emphasized the fact that Samara specialists participated in the creation of a cosmodrome on Kourou Island, and at the Progress Rocket and Space Center a special version of the Soyuz launch vehicle (Soyuz-ST) was created for launch in the conditions of an equatorial cosmodrome.

Cosmonaut Jean-Loup Chrétien, in a conversation with students, noted the importance of space diplomacy and expressed the opinion that people rising into orbit become cosmopolitans – representatives not of specific nations, but of all humanity. “Space is a hostile environment, so we can only get comfortable there if we unite and forget about infighting,” he added.

Samara University student Anastasia Tolstikova emphasized that the documents on which modern space law is based were developed in the middle of the last century and require updating. “Currently, contradictions in international space law, the work of private space companies, and environmental problems of debris in near space are intensifying,” she noted.

In this regard, the student expressed the opinion that in space everyone should represent a single civilization, united by an inhabited cosmic body – the Earth.

A representative of the private Russian company SR Space, Oleg Mansurov, addressing the teleconference participants, suggested thinking about the role of private companies in the development of the industry. According to his estimates, there are currently two options for approaching the development of private astronautics: on the one hand, non-state venture funds finance infrastructure development, on the other, technology transfer from state scientific institutes and universities to startups is organized.

Members of the MGIMO Space Diplomacy Club analyzed the existing obstacles to the implementation of space cooperation. A student at the Faculty of International Relations of MGIMO, Nelson Avakyan, focused on attempts of changing the existing international legal regime for the use of outer space, which, in his opinion, could lead to the placement of weapons in orbit of the planet and the conduct of military operations there.

As an argument, the student cited the Artemis Accords memorandum. “This memorandum introduces the term “security zones” on celestial bodies, in which the legal regime of a particular nationality can be established, which is contrary to international agreements,” noted Nelson Avakyan.

Meanwhile, students recalled that October 16, 2023, Russian diplomats submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space a resolution “Space technologies for promoting peace,” which proposes preventing the use of satellites for military purposes.

During the teleconference, the participants noted that in the international field it is necessary to build joint work with the BRICS countries in the field of space cooperation, and in the legal field, to create conditions for attracting private capital to the rocket and space industry and organizing public-private partnerships.

Source: RIA News.