Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III approved the U.S. Space Command commander’s eight proposed specific behaviors for the Department of Defense’s operations in the space area of responsibility, Feb. 9, 2023.
Austin signed the Tenets of Responsible Behavior in Space in July 2021[https://www.spacecom.mil/Newsroom/Publications/Pub-Display/Article/3318236/tenets-of-responsible-behavior-in-space/
]. The intent of July 2021 memorandum was to provide DoD guidance acknowledging five longstanding DoD tenets of responsible military behaviors in space. As part of the ToRB memorandum, Austin directed the USSPACECOM commander to develop associated specific behaviors for each of the five tenets.
"The intent for these tenets and associated behaviors was to provide authoritative direction to DoD components on what constitutes a baseline for professional military behavior and drive adherence in DoD's internal design, procurement, and operations for space activities," said U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, USSPACECOM commander. "We will continue to review our procedures to properly implement these operational practices and assess additional opportunities to increase understanding of U.S. behaviors, complementing ongoing efforts to establish norms and best practices in space."
The February 2023 Tenet Derived Responsible Behaviors in Space memorandum is intended to further establish a level of transparency about U.S. military space activities in order to reduce the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation.
These non-legally binding tenets and best practices highlight DoD’s and USSPACECOM’s voluntary commitment to, among other guidelines, mitigate space debris, align space operations with the United Nation’s long-term sustainability guidelines and reinforce the U.S. and Department’s commitment not to conduct destructive direct ascent antisatellite missile tests.
USSPACECOM supports and follows voluntary guidelines and best practices such as the UN Debris Mitigation Guidelines and the UN Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities.
Freedom to access space and operate within the domain has become integral to the American modern way of life added U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Richard J. Zellmann, USSPACECOM deputy director of operations.
“Space, in general, is critical...not just to our security, but to our economic prosperity. It’s important to our ability to gain scientific knowledge and, as a result, we become more proficient in the space domain,” he explained. "To allow growth in the space domain, you need to make sure that it remains sustainable.”
USSPACECOM will use this list to create shared understandings between space operators about longstanding DoD operational practices to increase transparency, reduce miscommunication, and reduce misperceptions. Developing a shared understanding of what constitutes safe and responsible space activities contributes to a more stable space environment by reducing the risk of miscalculation.