Senate Committee Approves Sinema-Backed Bill Enhancing Safety by Clearing Space Debris

Aug 2, 2023

Senator’s bipartisan ORBITS Act creates a program to clean up harmful space debris in orbit

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the Orbital Sustainability (ORBITS) Act – bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema improving national security, supporting communications reliability, and protecting American astronauts by creating a program to clean up space debris.
As Chair of the Space and Science Subcommittee, Sinema helped introduce the bipartisan ORBITS Act alongside Senators John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
“I’m proud our commonsense legislation ensuring safe space exploration by eliminating harmful space debris from our orbit is moving forward with broad bipartisan support. We’ll keep working with colleagues in both parties to lead our legislation into law,” said Sinema, Chair of the Space and Science Subcommittee.
Space debris is considered to be any human-made object in orbit that does not serve a useful purpose. Currently, there are around 8,000 metric tons of debris objects in low Earth orbit that can be hazardous to the International Space Station, U.S. military and scientific satellites, and commercial communications satellites.
Sinema’s ORBITS Act addresses this risk by directing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Commerce’s Office of Space Commerce (OSC), and the National Space Council to track and classify orbital debris, publish a list of debris that pose the greatest risk, and invest in key technologies to actively remove debris from orbit. 
Additionally, the bipartisan legislation requires the OSC, the National Space Council, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take steps to develop best practices for coordinating space traffic that could help avoid collisions that create additional space debris.