“Securing Space Sustainability with Commercial Best Practice” Krystal Azelton

Earlier this year GVF was a supporting association for the 4th Summit for Space Sustainability hosted by the Secure World Foundation and the United Kingdom Space Agency. The Summit focused on developing solutions for space sustainability and encompassed a comprehensive cross-section of space sustainability issues including orbital capacity, space debris, and national and international space security. GVF member organisations, representing the space and satellite ecosystem, are key actors in guaranteeing development and implementation of responsible space strategies, as exemplified in the Inmarsat report ‘Space Sustainability Report: Making the Case for ESG Regulation, International Standards and Safe Practices in Earth Orbit’. Donald J. Kessler’s eponymous cascading satellite collisions syndrome goes all the way back to 1978, but it is only now that its consequences are dangerously evident. In this reflection Krystal Azelton, Director of Space Applications Programmes, Secure World Foundation, looks at issues concerning space security.

“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 organisations currently operate just over 6900 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.

“But what role should industry play in addressing these and other space sustainability challenges? Secure World Foundation provides a number of resources such as the Handbook for New Actors in Space or the Space Sustainability Infographic. Companies must become familiar with these topics and participate in national and international dialogues designed to address regulatory gaps and create best practices for commercial activities. They must lead the way in ensuring that our industry commits to responsible behaviour.”

Krystal Azelton, Director of Space Applications Programmes, Secure World Foundation

Krystal Azelton (née Wilson) is a Director of Space Applications Programs at Secure World Foundation and has over 10 years of international and domestic space, public policy, and management experience.

Prior to joining SWF, Ms. Azelton was a consultant at Access Partnership, where she worked with international satellite service providers and other leading technology companies on policy issues related to spectrum management, emergency communications, telecommunications standards, orbital debris, and multilateral processes including representing industry at the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission. She has also served as a project manager at the Tauri Group, a leading aerospace analytics firm, providing research, analysis, strategic planning, and regulatory assessment to government and commercial clients. She led and supported production of NASA’s strategic plans, audits, performance plans, budgets, and annual reports. Her work exposed to the full range of NASA’s Earth observation, human exploration, and aviation programs. In that role, she was also recognized as a key member of a data management team that received the NASA Group Achievement Award.

Previously, Ms. Azelton was in the field of international development as a Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at Development Alternatives, Inc in Afghanistan working on US military and local government initiatives and as Senior Program Assistant at the National Democratic Institute in Africa and Washington, DC working on sustainable governance projects. In those roles, she worked closely with the United Nations, the World Bank, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, US and international nonprofits, and others. Read Ms. Azelton’s publications.

Ms. Azelton holds a BSFS in International Politics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC and completed the Programme Internationale at Sciences-Po in Paris, France.

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