A modern space race needs to be built on sustainability

Researchers also stress the need to take care of space, particularly around the Earth’s orbit. Of the 23,000 objects regularly being tracked in orbit by radar, around 15% are active satellites, the rest is space debris.

As more commercial satellites are launched, such as SpaceX’s Starlink satellite cluster, the potential for space debris increases.

Dr Peter Roberts argues that one way to combat the problem of space debris is to coordinate International space policymakers to agree to prioritise the use of Very Low Earth Orbits (VELO) for commercial operations to lessen humanity’s impact on the space environment. Higher level orbits should be reserved for science, crewed activities, and space exploration.

Professor Emma Bunce, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: “It is exciting to contemplate the future of the UK space sector, our use of space for the good of our planet, and its robotic and human exploration more widely. The ‘space age’ is still relatively young – just 60 years – but it is clear that our future and that of our planet will be reliant on space technology and the application of space-enabled data.”

As well as sustainability, On Space advocates for the use of advanced materials, such as graphene, in UK space technology, support for research and development into emerging space technologies in the UK and prioritising international collaborations in UK and international space policy.

On Space is available to read on Policy@Manchester’s website.

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