Date of Award

Summer 2023

Access Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aviation


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Steven Hampton, Ed.D.

First Committee Member

Scott Winter, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Sara M. Langston, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Brian Weeden, Ph.D.

College Dean

Alan J. Stolzer, Ph.D.


This dissertation explored standards, rules, or regulations ("rules") of orbital traffic coordination to reduce the risk of collisions in space between active space objects. The research questions explored topics associated with areas for potential implementation of rules include maneuvering capabilities, liability and insurance, zoning, right-of-way, and tracking of objects in space.

The researcher utilized an exploratory qualitative research method because of the developing field of study and a growing domain for potential regulation. The research design is a mixture of a case study for bounding and structuring the data collection and grounded theory for a rigorous and well-defined analysis approach. The primary data source is semi-structured interviews used to explore the perspectives of three stakeholder groups with a vested interest in space traffic management. The three groups are space industry, space insurance industry, and space law and policy experts. Amongst the three groups, 19 interviews were conducted.

The data were analyzed to summarize and compare the different perspectives of each group and across the groups. From the summarized perspectives, the intent was to recommend a set of rules, but participants offered few specific rules. Instead, the dissertation’s results present shared considerations across the six research questions to provide the current state of thinking across the community.

Results from this dissertation will provide valuable insight to policymakers beyond feedback generally received during comment periods associated with federal rulemaking. National space traffic management legal frameworks need to harmonize globally to optimize space transportation operations and practices. This dissertation contributes to a larger global effort to standardize and solidify rules defining interactions between space operators by capturing the perspectives of experts primarily in and concerning the United States.