UK Government Announces Package of New Measures to Drive Space Sustainability

The scales of the space debris problem (Credit: ESA)

The new measures will demonstrate the UK’s commitment, ambition and drive to improve the UK’s sustainable use of space.

  • Science Minister George Freeman announces new Plan for Space Sustainability to demonstrate UK leadership in sustainable space, in line with ambitions set out in the National Space Strategy
  • UK industry will work in partnership with government to develop a new Space Sustainability Standard, which will incentivise companies to adopt best practice
  • government will also review the regulatory framework, including exploring ways of lowering insurance costs for sustainable missions

LONDON (UK Government PR) — Science Minister George Freeman has today (Thursday 23 June) launched a new Plan for Space Sustainability, a raft of measures which will demonstrate the UK’s commitment, ambition and drive to improve the UK’s sustainable use of space.

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Inmarsat Issues Far-reaching Report to Enhance Sustainability, Reduce Satellite Debris and Strengthen Regulation in Space

Programme of action includes measures to minimise orbital collisions, reduce anti-satellite missile tests, adopt new technical standards, introduce kitemarks and to assess mega-constellations for economic benefits and sustainability commitments

LONDON (Inmarsat PR) — Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, has today issued a far-reaching report on sustainability in space calling on industry operators, national governments and regulators to take coordinated action to reduce space debris, enhance safety and better manage the expansion of mega constellations in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

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Inmarsat CEO Issues Warning Over Risks to Sustainability and Innovation Posed by ‘Unmanaged Expansion’ in Space Industry

Inmarsat CEO Rajeev Suri

“For space to support sustainability on Earth, there needs to be sustainability in space.  And, to be blunt, we are moving in the wrong direction here.” — Rajeev Suri, CEO Inmarsat

LONDON (Inmarsat PR) — Rajeev Suri, Chief Executive Officer of Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, issued a stark warning today that unmanaged space sector expansion could exacerbate environmental damage, stifle innovation and undermine the long-term capability of satellites to help combat climate change.

Addressing the Royal Aeronautical Society’s conference ‘Towards a Space Enabled Net Zero Earth’, Mr Suri focused attention on major factors threatening long-term environmental and economic sustainability.

The Inmarsat CEO told the conference: “Space is increasingly important for the creation of a sustainable world. While the role of new players – with new investment and innovations – is to be welcomed, space is too important an asset to be driven by short-term thinking. To protect our shared future, there must be a common approach and common rules that protect the space environment too.

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UK Space Agency Provides New Funding to Support Sustainable Future of Space

Distribution of space debris. (Credit: ESA)
  • Space debris is a major threat to the satellite services we rely on
  • 13 projects involve industry and academia across the UK

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — The UK Space Agency is providing £1.7 million [US $2.3 million] for new projects to support sustainable space operations, Science Minister George Freeman announced today.

The 13 new projects will help track and remove dangerous debris in space. They include an AI-based tool which can take autonomous action to avoid a collision and another which will see multiple small spacecraft fired at debris before taking it into the atmosphere to dispose of it.

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Biden Administration Publishes Space Priorites Framework

Taken by NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, this picture shows Earth’s limb, or horizon, from the International Space Station as it orbits above the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile. (Credits: NASA)

UNITED STATES SPACE PRIORITIES FRAMEWORK
The White House
December 2021

UNITED STATES SPACE PRIORITIES FRAMEWORK

Space activities are essential to our way of life. They advance our understanding of the Earth, the universe, and humanity; enable U.S. national security; create good jobs and economic opportunity; enhance our health and well-being; and inspire us to pursue our dreams. Space capabilities provide critical data, products, and services that drive innovation in the United States and around the world. Access to and use of space is a vital national interest.

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Responsive Satellite Servicing and Sustainable Space Launches Get a Boost Through Astroscale, Virgin Orbit Partnership

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, today announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with Virgin Orbit, the responsive launch and space solutions company that has announced a planned business combination with NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (“NextGen”) (NASDAQ: NGCA).

The MOU establishes a new partnership in which the two companies will seek opportunities to cooperate on a series of space initiatives that will drive the future of space sustainability and on-orbit servicing ecosystem. Astroscale is planning dozens of missions over the next decade and is in discussions with Virgin Orbit to launch as many as 10 of those on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne. The two companies are also working toward a future joint mission concept focused on satellite servicing.

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Astroscale and New Zealand to Cooperate on Space Safety and Sustainability

TOKYO (Astroscale PR) — Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market leader in satellite servicing and long-term orbital sustainability across all orbits, today announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with New Zealand’s Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment (“MBIE”) to cooperate on areas of space safety and sustainability, including debris mitigation and remediation, and on-orbit servicing in general.

The collaboration is focused on partnership in projects and activities that support long-term space sustainability, including joint technology development and research. To initiate these efforts, Astroscale and MBIE have identified an initial project in collaboration with Rocket Lab and Te Pūnaha Ātea–Auckland Space Institute, which will define the engineering requirements, policy challenges and associated costs for multi-active debris removal missions with clients that require direct re-entry due to survivability of components. The project will assess the mitigation strategy for up to three large debris objects with a single servicer in low Earth orbit and will aim to further demonstrate the viability of commercial debris removal while advancing the state of orbital sustainability.

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LeoLabs & New Zealand Sign Multi-year Agreement for the Spatial Regulation Platform

Kiwi Space Radar (Credit LeoLabs)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (MBIE PR) — The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) today announced a multi-year agreement between the New Zealand Space Agency and LeoLabs, Inc. to develop the world’s most advanced Regulatory and Space Sustainability Platform.

The platform will improve the ability to implement responsible stewardship of space by commercial and public sector space entities.

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G7 Nations Commit to the Safe and Sustainable Use of Space

CORNWALL, UK, 13 June 2021 (UK Space Agency PR) — Today at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, delegates from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the USA, the UK and the EU pledged to take action to tackle the growing hazard of space debris as our planet’s orbit becomes increasingly crowded.

One of the biggest global challenges facing the space sector is orbital congestion and space debris. There are currently an estimated 900,000 pieces of space debris including old satellites, spent rocket bodies and even tools dropped by astronauts orbiting Earth. Space debris could stay in orbit for hundreds of years and present a real danger to the rapidly increasing number of new satellites being launched each year.

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UK Space Sector Receives £1 Million Government Boost to Support International Innovation

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Five new projects have been awarded a share of over £1 million [$1.38 million] of government funding to work with international partners on innovative space technology.

Projects to remotely probe ice on Mars to help explorers find life below the surface, a system to warn of impacts of flood risks to infrastructure based on research in India and a scheme to design UK imaging technology for a space telescope are among the new international initiatives to receive backing from the UK Space Agency’s National Space Innovation Programme (NSIP).

The funding will see UK companies and organisations working with partners such as NASA, and space agencies from Canada, Japan and Italy. NSIP is the first fund dedicated to supporting the UK space sector’s innovation through collaborations with international partners designed to contribute to UK science, security and prosperity.

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The Current State of Space Debris

Debris and defunct launcher stages in the Geostationary ring. Aging satellites are known to release debris and explosions can occur due to residual energy sources. The resulting fragments can be thrown back and cross the Geostationary orbit. For this reason it’s fundamental to release residual energy once the nominal mission is completed. (Credit: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Swirling fragments of past space endeavours are trapped in orbit around Earth, threatening our future in space. Over time, the number, mass and area of these debris objects grows steadily, boosting the risk to functioning satellites.

ESA’s Space Debris Office constantly monitors this ever-evolving debris situation, and every year publishes a report on the current state of the debris environment.

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SIA: Act Now on Space Traffic Management, Sustainability

Distribution of space debris around Earth (Credit: ESA)

Satellite Industry Association says tens of thousands of satellites aren’t going to manage themselves

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 24, 2020 (SIA PR) – The Satellite Industry Association (SIA) today announced the release of a number of recommendations addressing the issue of space traffic management, with the goal of supporting a long-term sustainable and safe space environment for commercial satellites and spacecraft. 

The recommendations were included in a SIA White Paper titled “The Future of Space and Space Traffic Coordination and Management (STCM)”.   The White Paper shares SIA and its members’ views and recommendations regarding the creation of a modern STCM regime, capable of supporting long term space sustainability and continued innovation and U.S. space leadership.

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Astroscale U.S. Appoints Dave Fischer as Business Development VP, David Hebert as Communications Director

Denver, Colo,, USA, April 21, 2020 (Astroscale PR) – Astroscale U.S. Inc., (“Astroscale U.S.”), the U.S. unit of Astroscale Holdings Inc., the market leader in developing a service to remove space debris and secure long-term orbital sustainability, today announced that Dave Fischer and David Hebert, two experienced and highly respected space industry professionals, will join the Astroscale U.S. management team. Fischer joins the company as Vice President of Business Development and Advanced Systems, and Hebert joins as Director of Communications with appointments effective as of March 2020.

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Secure World Foundation Joins Space Safety Coalition

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (SSC PR) — Secure World Foundation has joined the Space Safety Coalition (SSC), a first-of-its-kind global ad hoc coalition dedicated to developing and maintaining a set of “living” space safety best practices.  The new coalition comprises space operators, space industry associations and space industry stakeholders that want to lead by example, actively promoting responsible space safety through the voluntary adoption of relevant international standards, guidelines, and practices, and the development of more effective space safety guidelines and best practices.

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