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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the cloud-of-junk dept.

Orbital Use Fees Proposed As the Most Effective Way to Solve the Space Junk Problem:

The most effective way to solve the space junk problem, according to a new study, is not to capture debris or deorbit old satellites: it's an international agreement to charge operators "orbital-use fees" for every satellite put into orbit.

Orbital use fees would also increase the long-run value of the space industry, said economist Matthew Burgess, a CIRES Fellow and co-author of the new paper. By reducing future satellite and debris collision risk, an annual fee rising to about $235,000 per satellite would quadruple the value of the satellite industry by 2040, he and his colleagues concluded in a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Space is a common resource, but companies aren't accounting for the cost their satellites impose on other operators when they decide whether or not to launch," said Burgess, who is also an assistant professor in Environmental Studies and an affiliated faculty member in Economics at the University of Colorado Boulder. "We need a policy that lets satellite operators directly factor in the costs their launches impose on other operators."

[...] A better approach to the space debris problem, Rao and his colleagues found, is to implement an orbital-use fee — a tax on orbiting satellites. "That's not the same as a launch fee," Rao said, "Launch fees by themselves can't induce operators to deorbit their satellites when necessary, and it's not the launch but the orbiting satellite that causes the damage."

[...] "In our model, what matters is that satellite operators are paying the cost of the collision risk imposed on other operators," said Daniel Kaffine, professor of economics and RASEI Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author on the paper.

Reference:
Akhil Rao, Matthew G. Burgess and Daniel Kaffine, Orbital-use fees could more than quadruple the value of the space industry", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1921260117


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  • (Score: 2) by driverless on Wednesday June 03 2020, @06:17AM

    by driverless (4770) on Wednesday June 03 2020, @06:17AM (#1002626)

    And that's the point of space usage fees, it forces operators to think about pollution/space junk because now it has a value attached to it. When it's free you can just dump your junk wherever you want which makes it completely invisible to most organisation, it's only when there's a dollar value attached to something that organisations are forced to pay attention. Look at bunker fuel for an example of this, spewing tons of toxic pollution from the cheapest crap you can burn is free so everyone uses it as much as possible - at best there's a fig-leaf where you're required to burn less polluting crap within a certain distance of land, but otherwise it's a free-for-all because you can't point the corporate accountants at a figure and say "it'll cost this much to burn the polluting crap instead of cleaner fuel".

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