Handbook for New Actors in Space

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The Challenge

The space domain is currently experiencing a rapid diversification and increase in the number of actors involved in space activities. More than 70 states, commercial companies, and international organizations currently operate nearly 1,500 satellites in Earth orbit.

The increased availability of space technology and capabilities has both advantages and disadvantages. It has spurred innovation, lowering of costs, and greater access to capabilities and services available from satellites for all. However, the growth in space activities and the influx of new actors also has the potential to exacerbate many of the current threats to the long-term sustainable use of space, such as on-orbit crowding, radio-frequency interference, the proliferation of space debris, and the chances of an incident in space sparking or escalating geopolitical tensions on Earth.

What is the Handbook for New Actors in Space?

SWF developed the Handbook for New Actors in Space, which is intended to provide nations, established satellite operators, start-up companies, universities, and other space actors with a broad overview of the fundamental principles, laws, norms, and best practices for peaceful, safe, and responsible activities in space.

The Handbook is the result of a collaborative effort between SWF and experts from governments, satellite operators, academia, and civil society. In June 2015, we held an initial workshop to discuss the Handbook outline and the topics that should be included. In May 2016, we held a second workshop to discuss the draft text of the handbook, and get feedback from representatives of our target audience on how well it met their needs. We also engaged in a series of bilateral discussions with many more experts on specific sections of the Handbook. The first edition of the Handbook was published in February 2017. A Spanish-language translation of the Handbook was released in February 2020, followed by Chinese and French translations in 2021. 

How Do I get a Copy?

The Handbook is available in multiple formats. Printed copies in English can be ordered via Amazon. A free PDF version of the Handbook can be downloaded from the SWF website. SWF staff will also be bringing physical copies of the Handbook for distributions at many of the events we attend throughout the year. If you are interested in inquiring about discounts for educational, non-profit, or bulk orders, please contact us.

What Comes Next?

SWF welcomes your feedback on the current edition of the Handbook. We are interested in comments on the existing content, as well as topics and ideas for future versions. Our goal is to refresh the printed version of the Handbook every few years. If you are interested in inquiring about a partnership, please let us know.

Last updated on September 26, 2023