Without space

Lolowa Alkindi, Bal Dhital, David Alain Girou, William Grand-Maison, Simon Jenner, Evon Koprowski, Juan Li, Erin Madden, Sonny Massahi, Michael Siddall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


In a world without access to any of the assets humans have placed into space, what would be the effect? Participants of the 2019 Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program, run by the International Space University (ISU) in Adelaide, Australia, set out to answer this question. Framed as a conversational piece, the participants investigate non-military causes and responses to this potential situation. The paper raises awareness of the terrestrial reliance on space systems in everyday lives and explores the likely aftermath of a systemic outage. Possible scenarios leading to a world without access to space are plentiful, ranging from fanciful to the tangible. For example, the shifting of Earth's magnetic fields and any subsequent change to its magnetosphere would have a negative impact on satellite access. Presented are the two most likely threats: outages due to space debris and space weather events. Without Space looks specifically at the following types of space assets as they relate to activities that impact daily life: space exploration capabilities; position, navigation, and timing; remote sensing; and telecommunication systems. Losses from commercial, economic, ethical, legal, political, societal, and technological perspectives are examined over time periods of one day, one week, one month, and one year. In addition, The People's Republic of China and the United States of America are used as case studies to explore possible reactions to such a space outage. These provide not only a relatable and intimate picture, but also crucially encourage and inspire an understanding of the importance of space to our increasingly interconnected society. The ability to recover services from both terrestrial systems and through the repopulation of orbits are briefly considered, though their complexity warrants a separate and more extensive exploration. Interestingly, the creation of this paper has identified an absence of available research into the sudden disappearance of space assets, besides studies regarding national security. This has encouraged speculation of long-term impacts, and inspires the opportunity for further discussion, investigation and research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event70th International Astronautical Congress - Washington, United States
Duration: 21 Oct 201925 Oct 2019
Conference number: 70


Conference70th International Astronautical Congress
CountryUnited States

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