Skip to main content

Model United Nations

Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space: Topic 2

NanoSatellite Regulation

COPUOS, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, was established by General Assembly resolution 1472 (XIV)1 in 1959, following the launch of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. The focus of COPUOS includes coordinating and assisting the international space-faring community in a variety of issues, such as the problem of space debris, expansion of satellite-based navigation systems and forming a link between spaceflight and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The prevention of a space-based arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union was the central focus of its earlier existence, and lead to the creation of several anti-armament treaties, with the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space.

Cubesats, a common variety of Nanosatellite, were first produced at Stanford University in 1999 as a means for graduate students to practice the process of building a satellite while remaining within the budgetary constraints of a university or college setting. Throughout the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, this platform blossomed and became an accepted standard in post-secondary and aerospace industries. Though initially focused around engineering durability and simplicity, much like that of the first Sputnik satellite; governments, corporations, and universities have been pushing the platform’s complexity to manufacture CubeSats capable of performing scientific missions, supporting defense initiatives, and execute purposes traditionally not reserved for larger satellites.

The inexpensive nature of Cubesats and a growing ease of access to Earth’s orbit allows smaller institutions and firms to engineer and launch missions at an increasing rate. Though advantageous for the industry, more material being placed in orbit around the planet leads to an increase of space debris once these satellites missions have concluded. There is also a question of national security, since some of these devices have the capability to monitor the earth, and thereby sovereign countries, without oversight from governments. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 is the current regulatory framework in which countries abide by in the construction of spacecraft. Two later additions to the law, the Space Liability Convention and the Registration Convention, require that member states report and accept liability for spacecraft built and launched by entities within their jurisdiction. Governments have recently started to evaluate their existing laws on small satellites. For example legislation was recently drafted in the United Kingdom to bring British CubeSat production and operation within the terms of liability and environmental impact specified in the Outer Space Treaty and an existing British law, the Outer Space Act of 1986. This Act limits which entities are allowed to construct Cubesats and seek launch solutions based on the English Government’s liability under the Outer Space Treaty. The United States, though not limiting who may build and launch, chooses Cubesat projects from across the country that conform to international standards and streamlines their process by providing launch into orbit through NASA’s Cubesat Launch Initiative. Without such a service, costs would be too great for those wishing to enter orbit to bear.

The United States is a leader in Cubesat production. Cubesat projects have become increasingly self-funded as corporations become interested as developers. In addition university projects can be funded through NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program (ELaNa) or individual state’s Space Grant Consortia.

Though some effort has been made by the international community to regulate the removal of material from orbit, this responsibility has largely fallen on the countries which launch the satellites into orbit to remove them. The United States require that Cubesats deorbit after a given period of time as not to generate unneeded debris in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The United States Joint Space Operations Center also tracks every object circling the earth. Governments and companies have begun to explore solutions to remove debris from orbit, including larger satellites dedicated to deorbiting other craft.

As a committee, you must decide what measures and regulations must be in place regarding the launch, funding, and removal of Cubesats from orbit. The existing framework must be reevaluated to conform with current events in Cubesat development. These changes should be transparent and available to all members of the United Nations.

Questions to Consider:

  • What is your nation’s space presence? Would changing policy on Cubesats affect you?
  • Is removing Cubesats from orbit the responsibility of the entity who launched it, or their nation’s government?
  • Should public funding be given to private organizations for cubesat research?
  • Should there be any restrictions on who can build and operate cubesats?

Documents to Consider:

Resources to Consider:

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2018), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …