Austen Shakespeare

UK space agency to host global summit

The UK Space Agency will co-host a global summit to agree new ways of ensuring a safe, sustainable and secure space environment.

The 4th Summit for Space Sustainability, hosted with the Secure World Foundation in London on the 22 and 23 June, brings together government, industry and academics from around the world to discuss how to ensure the sustainability of space operations.

Orbital congestion created by space debris is one of the biggest global challenges facing the space sector. There are currently around 30,000 pieces of debris in orbit large enough to be tracked from Earth such as old satellites, spent rocket bodies and even tools dropped by astronauts. But there are also an estimated 130 million pieces of smaller debris.

Space debris can stay in orbit for hundreds of years and present a real danger to the rapidly increasing number of new satellites being launched each year which provide vital services, including communications and climate change monitoring.

Science Minister George Freeman said: “As our reliance on satellites for everyday activity grows and the UK becomes a hub of small satellite design, manufacturing and launch, we are at the forefront of ensuring a safe and secure space environment.

“With more than a thousand satellites launched last year alone, “safe space” means proper governance of space traffic, debris removal, satellite tracking and in-orbit servicing

“I recently visited the Harwell Space Campus with HRH The Prince of Wales to discuss space sustainability, and the UK Space Agency is working with innovative companies including Astroscale, ClearSpace and SSTL to develop a new national mission to clean up space junk.

The Minister concluded: “We are now taking the lead internationally by bringing together experts from around the world to this Summit for Space Sustainability.

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