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Department of Physics

Space Risk and Liability

29-30 June 2015

Department of Physics, Durham University

This interdisciplinary workshop will cover the threats posed by natural cosmic hazards such as Near-Earth Objects and space weather, as well as the risks arising from the growth of commercial space activity. The latter poses challenges in, for example, the evaluation of technological risks, ensuring the safety of space tourists, and protecting the environment from space debris and other pollutants. Such developments need to be backed up by a supportive legal and regulatory framework and a well-functioning space insurance market. The workshop will address these topics with a focus on the evaluation and mitigation of the risks, and their physical, societal and financial impacts. One of our aims is to explore the possibility of establishing a new research centre in this area.

The event has been organised by Dr Richard Wilman and Prof Martin Ward in the Department of Physics, with financial support from the Institute for Hazard, Risk & Resilience.

Session times:

Invited keynote speakers:

            • Prof Mark Bailey (Armagh Observatory): Near-Earth Objects: Origins, Impacts & Risk
            • Mr Mark Williamson (Space Technology Consultant): Space Risks and Satellite Insurance
            • Dr Hugh Lewis (University of Southampton): Orbital debris and the commercialisation of space
            • Dr Chris Newman (University of Sunderland): Space Law: the shifting contours of risk and liability in space activity

The workshop coincides with the inaugural Asteroid Day on 30 June 2015, the anniversary of the Tunguska impact in Siberia in 1908. The Tunguska event was the largest asteroid impact in recent history and devastated an area of forest comparable to a large metropolitan area. A vivid reminder of such dangers came in February 2013 when the Chelyabinsk meteor hit without prior warning. Asteroid Day is a global awareness campaign, endorsed by prominent scientists, engineers and astronauts, with the ultimate aim of detecting and tracking all inner Solar-System Near-Earth Objects.

Attendance at the talks is free and open to all.

To register your place at the talks on Monday 29 June, please complete the form below. Delegates from outside Durham University and interested members of the general public are welcome to attend, but please note that these are research-level talks primarily aimed at academics and industry practitioners - please email r.j.wilman@durham.ac.uk for more information.

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