The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) held a scenario planning workshop for the development of response protocols for space vehicle launches (SVL) and orbital debris re-entry (ODR) on 13 and 15 December 2023 at the PhilSA office in Eastwood, Quezon City.  

This workshop was designed to assist the Technical Working Group on Orbital Debris (TWG) in developing national policies and protocols.  It involved the identification of risks, formulation of mitigation measures, and crafting of response mechanisms for space vehicle launch and orbital debris re-entry. 

Technical working group on orbital debris and scenario planning participants

Chaired by PhilSA’s Space Technology Missions and Systems Bureau (STMSB) Director Marc Caesar Talampas, the workshop was joined by members of the TWG composed of the following agencies: Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of National Defense (DND), National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), National Security Council (NSC), Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). 

Representatives from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine Air Force (PAF), Philippine Navy (PN), Philippine Coast Guard (PGC), and National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) joined the workshop as guest participants.  

Technical presentations on space law and policy, rocket launches, and orbital debris were delivered by speakers from PhilSA. These presentations provided background information that gave the participants the necessary insights for scenario planning. 

Scenario planning on falling objects from SVL, or launching a launch vehicle into space, and ODR, or when orbital debris re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere from outer space, was conducted and facilitated by PhilSA experts. Risks were identified during the pre-event, event, and post-event stages. Members of the TWG noted actions corresponding to their areas of responsibility, which they may oversee or enact under their mandates and functions. 

On the second day of the workshop, participants presented the results of their planning and outlined the specific actions that their respective agencies and offices can take in response to the scenarios presented.  

The outputs of the scenario planning workshop will serve as the foundation for the development of response protocols and mechanisms that will ultimately result in a nationally coordinated approach in responding to the risks posed by space vehicle launches and orbital debris reentry. 

The increase of space-related activity resulted in frequent rocket launches and increased risk of space debris re-entry; to mitigate possible risks, PhilSA established the TWG on Orbital Debris Protocols on 07 December 2021 during the 4th Philippine Space Council (PSC) meeting. The TWG serves as an advisory body for the coordination, discussion, formulation, and integration of strategies, protocols, guidelines, and similar mechanisms.  Its establishment aims to promote and ensure appropriate responses to rocket launches and other outer space activities that can pose risks to the Philippines.