“Space Traffic Management” is a New Approach to the Space Debris Issues. Looking Back on the SmallSat Symposium 2024 #1

Warpspace Inc.
3 min readFeb 21, 2024

Warpspace CSO, Hirokazu Mori, participated in the SmallSat Symposium 2024, an event for small satellite operators, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, USA, on February 6–8, 2012. The event was hosted by SatNews, a media company that covers a wide range of satellite-related news. SmallSat Symposium is attended by many people involved in management and industry. Based on an interview with Hirokazu Mori, who participated in the event on-site, this article describes “Space Traffic Management (STM)” which should be checked as the latest trend in the small satellite market.

(Click here for the second part.)

(Click here for the article on SmallSat Symposium 2023 held last year)

Richard Dalbello speaking at SmallSat Symposium 2024.

While space-based businesses have been developing at a tremendous pace in recent years globally, the risk of collisions between satellites and space debris is increasing day by day and has reached a level that cannot be ignored. Against this background, at the SmallSat Symposium 2024, Mr. Richard Dalbello, Director of the Office of Space Commerce, emphasized the importance of STM efforts for sustainable space development (*1). The Office of Space Commerce assumes the STM role of regulating the management of space objects from the U.S. Department of Defense (Pentagon).

(*1 [SPACE NEWS] Space industry urged to take a broader view of sustainability)

Mr. Richard Dalbello said,

“To ensure that the use of low Earth orbit, which is filled with satellite swarms, is not restricted, an open source platform will be created based on efficient use of orbit and fairness. SpaceX has been selected as a partner for this purpose.”

SpaceX has already launched approximately 6,000 Starlink satellites (as of Feb 2024) and has strong automated avoidance program expertise for the operation of its constellation of satellites. On February 12, SpaceX also announced plans to de-orbit 100 early versions of its Starlink satellites through controlled descent operations (*2). In doing so, in order to coordinate activities with other operators, SpaceX will share positional and predictive information about the descending Starlink satellites, and if there is a risk of collision, it is assumed that the Starlink side will avoid collision through orbit control. Such risk management expertise in satellite constellation operations was considered important for STM by the U.S. Space Industry Agency.

(*2 [Via Satellite] SpaceX Details Plan to Actively Deorbit 100 Starlink Satellites)

Based on this, Mori said,

“The government has selected the partner company this time, but in reality, it looks as if the government is begging SpaceX to teach it a lesson. It is like the Medici family, who made their fortune in the banking business in the 15th century and became trustees of the papacy.”

In the conventional space business, private companies often receive loans from the government to engage in business. Through this case, we can once again see how influential SpaceX is.



Warpspace Inc.

Warpspace develops “WarpHub InterSat”, an optical inter-satellite data relay service. We will realize this service for LEO Sat operators by 2025.