"Without these ambitious and progressive steps, we risk reducing commercial activity, lower levels of investment—and society will miss out on the benefits that can be derived from this important sector."
Large corporations are moving rapidly to establish large-scale LEO deployments and provide services around the world, in what has been described as a 'gold rush'.
In the five years to December 2019, the number of satellites orbiting Earth increased by 77% and in the year 2020, the number increased a further 37% to 3371 active satellites.
SpaceX's Starlink system has approval from the US Federal Communications Commission for 12,000 satellites and the company is seeking authorisation for a further 30,000 satellites, with the growth of LEO filings with national regulatory agencies leading aviation giant Boeing to separately raise serious concerns about the long-term space safety and sustainability.
Flinders University Professor (Digital Technology, Security and Governance) Melissa de Zwart, who is deputy chairman of the Space Industry Association of Australia, says there is real cause for concern.
"We have heard about the possible Starlink debris falling to Earth in regional NSW, and Russia's move to exit the International Space Station which is due to be retired after 20 years in space," says Professor de Zwart, who is director of the JBC for the US Alliance in Digital Technology, Security and Governance.
"We also need to weigh up the risks against the advantages of opening up promising new low-cost channels of communication and connectivity, as well as Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine applications, that could bring significant benefits to remote and financially disadvantaged communities."
As well as spectrum capacity and management of debris which may cause harm in space or on Earth, the Flinders report considers several other complex challenges including physical and spectral interference management; optical and radio astronomy, including casual night sky viewing; and competition between operators in the LEO region.