Sinema-Backed Bill Improves National Security and Safety by Clearing Space Debris

Feb 23, 2023

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Chair of the Space and Science Subcommittee, re-introduced the Orbital Sustainability (ORBITS) Act – bipartisan legislation improving national security, supporting communications reliability, and protecting American astronauts by creating a program to clean up space debris.
The ORBITS Act unanimously passed the Senate at the end of the 117th Congress. In her new role as Chair of the Space and Science Subcommittee, Sinema will work to build broad support for the bill and oversee implementation of the program the bill creates.
“Space debris threatens U.S. military, communications, and scientific satellites, as well as the health and safety of American astronauts. Our commonsense legislation ensures safe space research and exploration by eliminating harmful debris from our orbit,” 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 25,000 space debris objects large enough to be tracked, which does not include small pieces such as lens covers or shards of metal from collisions. In addition to posing a threat to the environment, this debris can be hazardous to the International Space Station, U.S. military and scientific satellites, and even 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 publish a list of debris that pose the greatest risk. 
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.