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The need for space sustainability

  • Published
    5th Jul, 2022

Context

On June 23, the U.K. hosted the fourth summit for Space Sustainability in London in collaboration with the Secure World Foundation and a new ‘Plan for Space Sustainability’ was announced.

What does sustainability in outer space mean?

  • Orbital crowding - One of the hot issues when it comes to space sustainability is orbital crowding. It poses a direct threat to the operations and safety of a mission and is likely to cause legal and insurance related confl
  • Space Debris- Space debris is another prominent issue. After the completion of a mission, an ‘end­of­life protocol’ requires space objects to be moved to the graveyard orbit or to a low altitude. Neither of the options are sustainable in the long run.
  • Space research and development of technology - Long­term sustainability looks toward space research and development of technology to ensure the reuse and recycling of satellites at every stage.

What does the U.K. plan for space sustainability entail?

  • “Astro Carta” for space sustainability - The U.K. calls for an “Astro Carta” for space sustainability, based on the Artemis Accords model for sustainable space exploration.
  • Primary elements -The U.K. Space Sustainability plan mentions four primary elements: to review the regulatory framework of the U.K.’s orbital activity; to work with organisations such as the G­7 and the UN to emphasise international engagement on space sustainability; to try and develop safety and quality­related metrics that quantify the sustainability of activities; and, to induce additional funding of $6.1 million on active debris removal.
  • Investment in collision assessment services - The U.K. also confirmed investments in its National Space Surveillance and Tracking Programme, which works on collision assessment services for U.K.­licenced satellite operators.
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