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European space sector commits: Earth is ours, we must cherish it
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Nov 23, 2022

"Our objective is to provide 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."

ESA and 22 other European space actors have come together to sign a "Statement for a Responsible Space Sector". Space exploration has allowed us to look back on our planet in a way that no human could imagine before, revealing a fragile world with limited resources. As today's statement explains, the responsibility to take care of our planet extends to and depends on, our actions in space.

ESA is honoured to collaborate with space stakeholders in the signature of this Statement for a Responsible Space Sector, which makes clear:

"Our objective is to provide 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."

Why now?
Taking advantage of the ESA Council at Ministerial level in Paris, 'CM22', against the backdrop of climate change on Earth and growing space debris in orbit, ESA and European actors from the space sector have expressed their commitment to meet the growing expectations of European States and citizens to address the global challenges faced by humankind.

For decades space has been part of our critical infrastructure and increasingly more of the daily activities of nations and individuals depend on satellites in orbit. 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 space science opens on the universe and our place in it.

"In recent years, the benefits of space exploration have become starkly clear like no time before," says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.

"Our Earth-observing satellites continue to reveal the worrying nature of our changing climate, through detailed images of natural disasters and extreme weather events that damage societies and take lives."

"Space activity is fundamental to taking care of our people and our planet, and in return, we must be responsible in how we behave in space. ESA is aiming at zero debris 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, for the purpose of fighting against climate change and preserving life and resources for future generations.

As the statement describes, "There is only one planet that we may call home, and we must take care of it."

Europe's vision for 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 the socially and environmentally responsible management of all activities within the space sector, while fostering progress towards the principles and values set forth hereafter. Further, we intend to foster cooperation among European space actors, making best use of available resources and expertise, and avoiding duplication of efforts."

Five principles for space activity
Our actions are guided by our principles. In the Statement for a Responsible Space Sector, ESA and co-signatories set out five principles to underpin space activity which answer the question: who and what is space for?

- For fair and responsible governance

- For the benefit to all of society

- For fair access to outer space, its preservation and peaceful exploration

- For the preservation of our natural environment on Earth and remediation of damages caused to our planet

- And for a fair society and improved wellbeing of all

Underpinned by European values
Europe, and ESA, is defined by cooperation between a multitude of countries, communities, cultures, languages and people. Our activity in space must reflect the values of those people and these partnerships. Today's statement sets out the commitment of its signatories to the following values:

- Integrity

- Identity and Inclusiveness

- Creativity and Curiosity

- Excellence

Real steps towards a responsible space sector
To make this vision a reality, in accordance with the principles and values set out, ESA intends with its co-signatories to pursue and strengthen their coordinated efforts in these areas of common interest: preserving life, resources, humankind and society.

With this in mind, working groups on the topics of 'Decarbonisation of the space sector', 'Responsible procurement' and 'LCA (Life-Cycle Assessment) and green technologies for space systems' have been setup and are producing valuable outputs. Other key topics remain to be tackled, upon which the Statement offers a unique framework to act.

The critical issues of climate change, responsibility and the protection of our planet not only underpin this gathering and agreement, but also ESA's own goals and ambitions being 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 'in-orbit servicing' and ESA's upcoming 'zero debris approach', ESA is taking a leading role in cleaning up our orbits and protecting our unique view on Earth.

Related Links
Space Safety at ESA
Statement for a Responsible Space Sector,
The latest information about the Commercial Satellite Industry

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