Space Traffic Management Panel


On Tuesday, 30 April, ACSACS hosted a panel of distinguished speakers on Space Traffic Management. This is not a well-defined term … whatever it is, it’s an essential solution to perhaps the most often stated challenge in the space domain: congestion. It is also an important element in seeking to prevent the escalation of the contested nature of outer space into actual hostilities. Defining ’Space Traffic Management’ involves determining:

  • where it applies;
  • what measures it might involve;
  • the authority for taking those measures; and
  • balancing the interests of various stakeholders.

The last point is particularly important, because whatever measures are taken, may have significant consequences for various stakeholders. For example, manoeuvres by one or both space objects to avoid a conjunction, whether voluntary or imposed in some way, has many implications, including potentially exacerbating part of the very problem we’re seeking to address. Before we can determine what may be lawful and politically acceptable, we have to understand what is technically possible and commercially feasible.

Listen to the audio file of this panel's discussion. 


  • Professor Russell Boyce
    • Chair for Intelligent Space Systems, UNSW Canberra
    • previously Chair, National Committee for Space and Radio Science (Australian Academy of Science)
    • previously Chair for Hypersonics, University of Queensland
      • where he and his team combined computational and experimental research with flight testing, most recently via the SCRAMSPACE scramjet flight experiment program
      • Space Situational Awareness is a major focus of current research by Russell and a large team at UNSW Canberra
  • Dr Cassandra Steer
    • currently an independent consultant in space security, space law and international law generally
    • originally from Australia, but has been living and working in Canada for many years 
    • visiting Australia temporarily to teach international criminal law, which was the subject of her PhD research and subsequent research during her time at the University of Amsterdam
    • former Executive Director of Women in International Security
    • former Acting Executive Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Ethics and Rule of Law
    • former Executive Director of the McGill Center for Research in Air and Space Law
  • Mr Thomas Pfister
    • Head of Space and Services Australasia for Airbus Defence and Space
    • Has worked for 18 years in High Tech industries including 15 years in Aerospace
    • Before Airbus he was Regional Manager for the East Asia region for Spot Image, an EADS Astrium company, which is an Earth Observation Services company
    • Airbus Defence and Space in Australia
      • encompasses air traffic control products and services offered by Airbus in Australia and elsewhere, including management of UAV traffic
      • Airbus is one of only a few companies to have a joint Statement of Strategic Intent with the Australian Space Agency
      • Airbus operates one of the world’s first high altitude pseudo-satellites - the Zephyr drone - out of Wyndham airfield in Western Australia, flying at altitudes that are not typically actively controlled by standard traffic management services
  • Duncan Blake
    • Senior Research Associate in the Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society here at UNSW Canberra
    • 22 years as a permanent Air Force legal officer, working at the tactical, operational and strategic levels
    • founding Chair of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Space Law
    • founding Chair of the Inter-governmental Working Group on Space Law for the FVEY Combined Space Operations initiative
    • a Managing Editor for Woomera Manual project, which is a multi-year, international project involving more than 30 experts globally seeking to clarify the application of space law in periods of tension and outright hostilities
    • member of the Advisory Council to the Space Industry Association of Australia