Can we win the Sustainable Space Race?

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talkResearch


More than 6000 spacecraft are currently orbiting just above our heads, providing vital services that we use every day; from warning us of dangerous space weather events, to helping lifeboat services navigate safely at sea. The “New Space” revolution means it is now possible for emerging space nations, companies, Universities, and even schools to launch their own space missions, making space - and space data - easier to access than ever before, and paving the way for anyone to use space to make the world a better place.
There is, however, a darker side to this extra-terrestrial revolution. Orbiting alongside these 6000 active spacecraft are tens of thousands of pieces of space debris that risk the usability of the orbital environment. We are now launching a rocket every two days on average, releasing black carbon and methane into the delicate upper atmosphere. Precious, finite resources are mined for use in spacecraft manufacturing, and then destroyed upon atmospheric re-entry. As humanity begins the process of returning to the Moon, these impacts are no longer restricted to our own orbital environment.
New, sustainable approaches to space mission design – from life-cycle assessment supported eco-design, to the use of very low Earth orbit – could revolutionise the space industry and ensure that we can continue to provide vital data needed on Earth, whilst protecting the environment for generations to come. We need to act now to change the course of our future in space, and see our orbital environment as a fragile resource to be preserved, rather than a commodity to be exploited.
Can we win the Sustainable Space Race?
Period13 Mar 2024
Held atReform Club, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionLocal