The European Space Agency and 22 other European space authorities have come together to sign a “Manifesto for a Responsible Space Sector”. Space exploration has allowed us to look at our planet in a way no human has ever imagined before, revealing a fragile world with limited resources. As today’s statement makes clear, the responsibility to care for our planet extends to and depends on our actions in space.
The European Space Agency is honored to collaborate with space stakeholders in signing this statement for a responsible space sector, which states:
“Our goal is to provide a basis for sustainable and long-term economic development of the space sector and to increase the contribution of space activities to the sustainable development of society.”
Drawing on the European Space Agency’s Council at Ministerial Level in Paris, “CM22”, against the backdrop of climate change on Earth and increasing space debris in orbit, the European Space Agency and European actors from the space sector have expressed their commitment to meeting the growing expectations of Europeans. States and citizens must confront the global challenges facing humanity.
For decades, space has been a part of our critical infrastructure, and more of the daily activities of nations and individuals have come to rely on satellites in orbit. Our understanding of human health has deepened through space station research, new economic markets have opened up, jobs have been created, and we continue to be inspired by the new perspective that space science opens up on the universe and our place in it.
“In recent years, the benefits of space exploration have become quite evident as never before,” says Josef Ashbacher, Director General of the European Space Agency.
Our Earth-observing satellites continue to reveal the alarming nature of our changing climate, through detailed images of natural disasters and extreme weather events that damage communities and claim lives.
“Space activity is central to taking care of our people and our planet, and in turn, we must take responsibility in how we behave in space. The European Space Agency aims to eliminate debris by 2030.”
Today, European space actors are committed to the long-term sustainability of space projects and to paving the way for socially and environmentally responsible management of all activities within the space sector, with the aim of combating climate change and preserving life 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 towards the principles and values hereinafter set forth. Furthermore, we intend to strengthen cooperation between European actors In the field of space, make the best use of available resources and expertise, and avoid duplication of efforts.
Five principles of space activity
Our actions are guided by our principles. In the Responsible Space Sector Statement, the ESA and the signatories outline five principles in support of space activity which answer the question: Who and what is space for?
For fair and responsible governance
For the benefit of the whole community
For equitable access to, preservation and peaceful exploration of outer space
– In order to preserve our natural environment on Earth and to treat damage to our planet
For a just society and better welfare for all
Backed by European values
Europe and ESA are defined by the collaboration of many countries, communities, cultures, languages and people. Our activity in the space must reflect the values of these people and these partnerships. Today’s statement demonstrates the commitment of its signatories to the following values:
Identity and inclusivity
Creativity and curiosity
Real steps towards a responsible space sector
To make this vision a reality, in accordance with the principles and values set out, ESA and its signatories intend to pursue and strengthen their coordinated efforts in these areas of common interest: the preservation of life, resources, humankind and society.
With this in mind, working groups have been set up on the topics “Decarbonization of the Aerospace Sector”, “Responsible Procurement”, “Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Green Technologies for Aerospace Systems” and are producing valuable outputs. There are still other major themes to be addressed, which the statement provides a unique framework for working upon.
Crucial issues of climate change, responsibility and protecting our planet support not only this gathering and agreement, but also the goals and ambitions of the European Space Agency that were put forward at this year’s ESA Council at ministerial level in Paris.
From the first-ever mission to remove a piece of debris from orbit, Clearspace-1, to ESA’s upcoming “Service in Orbit” and “Zero Debris Approach,” ESA plays a leading role in cleaning up our orbits and protecting our unique offering on Earth.
Find out more about the European Space Agency’s vision.