With a staff of 12 people, the Secure World Foundation plays an outsized role in the global dialogue on space stewardship, offering information and insight on sustainability, law, policy and security.
In 2020 alone, SWF hosted 41 events including its flagship Summit for Space Sustainability, a three-day virtual event that attracted several hundred participants from dozens of countries as well as notable speakers from international government agencies, industry and academia.
When SWF was established in 2002 by Marcel Arsenaul and Cynda Collins Arsenault, it promoted the concept of space sustainability primarily in the United States. However, the organization quickly gained a reputation for providing information and insight to public and private organizations around the world.
For years, SWF has worked extensively with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and the First Committee, which focuses on issues related to international security and disarmament. Before becoming SWF executive director in 2018, Peter Martinez chaired the COPUOS Working Group on the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities.
Increasingly, SWF shines a light on military space activities. Brian Weeden, Secure World Foundation program planning director, and Victoria Samson, SWF Washington office director, assess publicly available information on direct-ascent, co-orbital, electronic warfare, directed energy and cyber weapons in their annual report Global Counterspace Capabilities: An Open Source Assessment.
SWF also plays key roles in organizations created in recent years to establish guidelines and standards for space operations. SWF was a founding member of the Space Safety Coalition, a group of international satellite operators and organizations that formed in 2019 to endorse a set of best practices to minimize the risk of in-orbit collisions and to encourage satellite operators to deorbit spacecraft within 25 years. In addition, SWF worked with DARPA, Advanced Technology International, the University of Southern California’s Space Engineering Research Center and the Space Infrastructure Foundation to establish in 2018 the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations, an industry-led group that develop consensus technical and safety standards for in-orbit servicing.
Organizations new to the space sector often turn to SWF for guidance. Since 2017, SWF has published the Handbook for New Actors in Space, an overview of space-related principles, laws, norms of behavior, standards and best practices. The handbook has proved to be so popular that SWF published a Spanish edition in 2019 and SWF is working on French and Chinese editions.
All the data for 2020 has not yet been compiled, but SWF’s 2019 accomplishments offer a snapshot of this industrious organization. In 2019, SWF employees created 124 reports, presentations and other resources. SWF also hosted or participated in 102 conferences, meetings and other events in the United States and Canada, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Africa, the Middle East and Oceania as well as virtual events.
SWF is based in Broomfield, Colorado, and has an office in Washington.