Resolution asks church for stewardship of outer space
The Central Association of the Massachusetts Conference wants the United Church of Christ to become the first religious body to promote a sustainable outer space environment through the adoption of a General Synod resolution this week. The resolution asks the General Synod to “register its concern about the degradation of the outer space environment” and for the church to “educate its members to advocate for a sustainable space environment.”
Essentially, the proposed resolution, “Responsible Stewardship of the Outer Space Environment,” summons the wider church to broaden its environmental perspective to include outer space. Delegates to General Synod 2015 will consider its merits during the biennial gathering, which takes places from June 26-30 in Cleveland.
According to the resolution, “[o]rbital space is a valuable natural resource, serving as home to the International Space Station, the Fermi space telescope, and nearly 1,000 satellites operated by 50 different nations” that are used for communication, and monitoring weather and climate conditions. But some orbits have been congested with debris. The U.S. Space Surveillance Network currently tracks about 23,000 pieces of debris that are 10 centimeters or larger in diameter. There are more than 1 million smaller objects that are part of Earth’s orbit, such as stray nuts and bolts.
“Given the speed of orbital objects, a piece of metal debris the size of a marble can destroy or disable a spacecraft,” the resolutions reads. “Even a paint fleck traveling at 17,500 miles per hour can be fatal to a space-walking astronaut. To date, eight satellites have been destroyed or disabled by debris, International Space Station crews have jumped into escape capsules on three occasions when debris orbited too close for comfort, [a]nd NASA’s $690 million dollar Fermi space telescope was nearly hit by a dead Russian spy satellite in 2012.”
The two main challenges that lay ahead are convincing the public that space debris is a serious problem, and relying on the scientific community to develop a solution to remove that debris from orbit that is economically and technologically feasible. The resolution calls on the national office of the UCC to develop educational materials and suggest actions for advocacy that people of faith can utilize to understand the issue and rally for a solution.
To be adopted by the General Synod, the resolution needs affirmation from 60 percent of the voting delegates.
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