Updated: Aug 3
The goal of sustainability in space is to keep the environment in space safe for space crafts. Sustainability in space is like sustainability on Earth in that it tries to use the environment of space to meet the needs of society now without compromising the needs of future generations. It usually focuses on Low Earth Orbit (LEO), the part of space closest to Earth, because this environment is the one most used and therefore most relevant to earth. It also takes into account Geostationary Equatorial Orbit (GEO), which is another popular choice for mission designs that go around the Earth.
Sustainability in the space ecosystem is a new idea that has been getting more attention in recent years as more satellites and other objects have been sent into space. "Space Sustainability" is also one of the main themes of the International Space Convention. More space junk is now orbiting the Earth because of these launches. This makes it harder for countries to work in space and raises the risk of an accident during a future launch that could stop it from being used properly.
Astroscale-demonstration mission will test a magnetic docking technique to remove space debris from orbit. (Image credit: Astroscale)
Necessary Measures for Creating a Sustainable Space Ecosystem
Building a healthy ecosystem requires There are three main types of Clean Space activities:
Space Debris Mitigation: reducing the amount of space junk that gets made
EcoDesign: Taking into account the effects on the environment and promoting green technologies
In-orbit Active Debris Removal: taking spacecraft out of orbit and showing how to service spacecraft while they are in space.
But for eco-friendly space exploration to be possible, new technologies need to be made. Several space-related organizations have paid for many studies that contribute to Clean Space's three main focus areas for a Sustainable Space Ecosystem.
Making as Little Trash as Possible in the Future
NASA, the United States, and the other major space-faring countries of the world have made it a top priority to keep near-Earth space safe for future generations by stopping the growth of orbital debris. Measures to reduce the amount of space junk can include slowing down or stopping the production of new junk and making satellites strong enough to withstand hits from small pieces of junk.
NASA graphic shwoing the amount of space junk currently orbiting Earth. (Image credit: NASA)
Cleaning Space Debris
In recent years, a reliable way to clean up space debris and make a space ecosystem that can last has come to light. This method involves catching and getting rid of the debris.
Analytic research groups that keep an eye on objects that orbit the Earth say that the best way to deal with space debris is to not make it in the first place. As with any environmental problem, it is much easier and cheaper to stop pollution from happening than to clean it up afterward. Don't leave things in space after they've done their job.
The goal of Remove Debris is to apply key ADR technology to an operational scenario during a low-cost mission using new key technologies for future missions. This will be the first international ADR technology mission. platform and what it carries. The use of a net and harpoon to catch debris, vision-based navigation to find the debris, and a drag sail are all important ADR technologies.
There might also be a need for more active ways to fight the debris. Just getting rid of a few rocket bodies or big, dead satellites every year could help us control the amount of trash in space. Researchers all over the world are working on and testing ways to do this, using nets, harpoons, and other tools that have worked in the past. Such things would need to be carefully planned and put together.
Space junk, like used rocket bodies, belongs to the country that put it there. This means that the U.S. government or a U.S. company couldn't just take down a bunch of used Russian rocket bodies on their own (or vice versa). Such a move could cause a problem on the international level because the technology used to clean up space junk could also be seen as a possible space weapon that could destroy working satellites.
Proper Discard at the End of Life
The best short-term way to help with mitigation and slow the rate of debris growth is to stop space systems from exploding in orbit when they reach the end of their useful lives. If spacecraft and orbital stages are in low Earth orbit (LEO), they should be brought down to an altitude where they will fall back into Earth's atmosphere within 25 years after the mission is over.
The goal of sustainability in space is to keep the environment in space safe for space crafts. There are three main types of Clean Space activities: reducing the amount of space junk, promoting green technologies, and taking spacecraft out of orbit. The best way to deal with space debris is to not make it in the first place. Don't leave things in space after they've done their job. Just getting rid of a few rocket bodies or big, dead satellites every year could help us control the amount of trash.