Code of Conduct is Like "Sarlacc Pit" Says Peter Marquez

Code of Conduct is Like "Sarlacc Pit" Says Peter Marquez

During a panel discussion on defense and industry perspectives on international space security and sustainability measures on Tuesday, Peter Marquez, former White House director of space policy in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, said that the proposed Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities (CoC) evokes the definition of a “sarlacc,” a fictional creature from the Star Wars movies. Marquez quoted another Star Wars character, C-3PO, as saying that in the sarlacc’s Great Pit of Carkoon “you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.”

Marquez, now vice president of strategy and planning at Orbital Sciences Corporation, said that while the CoC may have good principles, it is already in the middle of a process with no daylight at the end of it. He cautioned against taking solely normative measures to advance space sustainability and security when these are not matched with intelligence and economic measures. Without investing in capabilities to make space secure, he said, normative security is a “space utopia.”

Marquez added that defining red lines without capabilities is “nothing but dangerous” and said that leadership is needed in this area. Referencing criticisms made about the stance of the Bush Administration regarding space security measures, Marquez agreed that it had been “absent from the international community.”  Yet he thinks that the Obama Administration’s change in tone is also insufficient; “saying yes to everything isn’t really leadership either.” “Change is easy, leadership is hard,” he said and added that Congress should also be advancing this issue.

Panelists from the Department of Defense (DoD), the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the Satellite Industry Association (SIA), joined Marquez in the panel discussion, which was hosted by the Secure World Foundation and the Space Foundation.

Industry representatives emphasized the role of their community in engaging and providing input in the development of these measures, which they said directly impact their activities. In particular, they mentioned ITAR reform as a priority. ITAR stands for the International Traffic in Arms Regulation that implement the Arms Export Control Act. Currently, satellites and related technologies are governed by the DoD’s “munitions list” under ITAR and its strict export control rules. Many industry advocates have called for ITAR reform, which they believe has negatively impacted U.S. competitiveness in the space sector.

Sam Black, SIA director of policy described ITAR reform as the “single most important way of boosting international cooperation.” While Black said he remained hopeful that progress could be made in the next few years, AIA Vice President for Space Systems Frank Slazer was more optimistic.  He expects that work  on ITAR reform could be done before the end of the year. The “circumstances have changed,” he explained — “the market has changed as well as the policies.”

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