ESA and 20 other European space actors have come together to sign a “Statement for a Responsible Space Sector”. Space exploration has allowed us to look back at our planet in a way no human could have ever imagined, revealing a fragile world with limited resources. As today’s statement explains, the responsibility to care for our planet extends to and depends on our actions in space.
ESA is honored to partner with space stakeholders in signing this responsible space sector statement, which clarifies:
“Our goal is to lay a foundation for the sustainable, long-term economic development of the space sector and to increase the contribution of space activities to the sustainable development of society.”
Take advantage of the ESA council at ministerial level in Paris, ‘CM22’, against the backdrop of Earth’s climate change and growing space debris in orbit, ESA and European space sector actors have expressed their commitment to meet the growing expectations of European states and citizens to improve the global challenges faced by humanity.
For decades, space has been part of our critical infrastructure and more and more of the day-to-day activities of nations and individuals have depended on orbiting satellites. Our understanding of human health has been deepened by space station research, new economic markets have opened, jobs have been created, and we continue to be inspired by the new perspective that space science is opening up on the universe and our place in it.
“In recent years, the benefits of space exploration have become abundantly clear as never before,” said ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.
“Our Earth observation satellites continue to reveal the worrying nature of our changing climate, providing detailed images of natural disasters and extreme weather events that damage societies and claim lives.”
“Space activity is fundamental to taking care of our people and our planet, and in return we must be responsible for how we behave in space. ESA is aiming for zero waste by 2030.”
Today, European space actors commit to the long-term sustainability of space projects and pave the way for socially and environmentally responsible management of all activities within the space sector, with the aim of fighting climate change and preserving lives and resources for future generations .
As the statement describes, “There is only one planet we can call home, and we must take care of it.”
Europe’s vision of the space sector
“…we intend to increase the contribution of projects led by the space sector to the sustainable development of society and work towards socially and environmentally responsible management of all activities within the space sector, while promoting progress in the direction of the principles and values set forth below. Furthermore, we intend to promote cooperation between European space actors, by making the best use of available resources and expertise and avoiding duplication.”
Five principles of space activity
Our actions are guided by our principles. In the Declaration for a Responsible Space Sector, ESA and co-signatories have set out five principles to support space activities that answer the question: Who and what is space for?
– For fair and responsible management
– For the benefit of the whole society
– For fair access to space, its conservation and peaceful exploration
– For preserving our natural environment on Earth and repairing damage to our planet
– And for a just society and a better well-being of all
Supported by European values
Europe, and ESA, is defined by cooperation between many countries, communities, cultures, languages and people. Our activities in space must reflect the values of those people and these partnerships. Today’s statement sets out the signatories’ commitment to the following values:
– Identity and inclusiveness
– Creativity and curiosity
Real steps towards a responsible space sector
To realize this vision, in line with the principles and values set forth, ESA, together with its co-signatories, intends to continue and strengthen their coordinated efforts in these areas of common interest: the preservation of lives, resources, humanity and the society.
With this in mind, working groups on the themes of ‘Decarbonisation of the Space Sector’, ‘Responsible Procurement’ and ‘LCA (Life-Cycle Assessment) and Green Technologies for Space Systems’ have been set up and are producing valuable results. There are other important issues to be addressed, for which the statement provides a unique framework in which to act.
The critical issues of climate change, responsibility and the protection of our planet underpin not only this meeting and agreement, but also ESA’s own goals and aspirations that will be put forward at this year’s ESA Ministerial Council in Paris.
From the first-ever mission to remove a piece of debris from space, Clearspace-1, to “in-orbit servicing” and ESA’s upcoming “zero debris approach,” ESA is playing a leading role in clearing our orbits and protecting our unique view of Earth.
More information about ESA’s vision.