in Space / Events

Over 40 organisations sign Memorandum of Principles for Space Sustainability

Posted 29 June 2023

Science Minister George Freeman hosted a Space Sustainability Symposium yesterday at the Royal Society in London, during which he was presented with a new Memorandum of Principles for Space Sustainability signed by more than 40 organisations.

Image by Chris J Mitchell / copyright Shutterstock

The symposium brought together leaders from the space industry, finance, academia and insurance to discuss a sustainable future for space. The UK government is committed to tackling the imminent threat of space junk jeopardising the future of space exploration.

The Memorandum of Principles for Space Sustainability is designed to create a market that incentivises sustainable behaviours. It was prepared by the new Earth-Space Sustainability Initiative, which was established with support from the UK Space Agency. The Memorandum will be a living document, with over 40 signatories including OneWeb and EchoStar to date.

Also yesterday, His Majesty King Charles III unveiled the Astra Carta seal to mark the launch of the Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Astra Carta framework at Buckingham Palace.

UK Minister of State at the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, George Freeman MP said: "Satellite communications are now vital to our daily lives, from SatNav to satellite TV, and defence to air traffic control. But space ‘junk’ from defunct satellites to spent rocket stages, and even small flakes of paint now pose an increasing threat to both commercial satellites and our ability to further explore space.

"We cannot allow the growing problem of space debris to undermine our ability to harness space for global good. We have both a moral duty to future generations and an economic interest to safeguard space sustainability.

“Failing to act is not an option. We must establish an international framework for the commercial space sector to ensure it is minimising new debris, clearing junk and investing in in-flight servicing, retrieval and advanced satellite technologies, to maximise the efficient use of the space spectrum by better connectivity of satellites.

“This needs global leadership which the UK has committed to provide as part of our National Space Strategy. Only through international cooperation can we meet our space sustainability goals and it is in line with this commitment that we have signed a Memorandum of Principles today, to create a global space market which rewards sustainable behaviours by working with other responsible space nations to set the standards for the world to follow.”

Ian Annett, Deputy CEO at the UK Space Agency, said: “Sustainable practices are crucial if we want to guarantee the safe and prosperous use of space for future generations.

“This is a huge priority for the UK Space Agency and today we have unveiled a set of principles to inform a new standard that will ensure space companies can put sustainability at the heart of their plans in a way that encourages investment and growth across the sector.

“It’s a landmark moment that demonstrates the UK’s commitment to responsible activity in space, backing the government’s Plan for Space Sustainability and sending a message to the world about the importance of protecting the environment beyond our skies.”

The events yesterday also mark one year since the UK government released the first ever Plan for Sustainability, including a range of measures to improve responsibility across the space sector. This includes UK Space Agency investments in Active Debris Removal technologies.


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