ESA no longer wants orbital debris

ESA no longer wants orbital debris
ESA no longer wants orbital debris

The Zero Debris Charter was officially signed by twelve nations and the ESA during the ESA/EU Space Council held in mid-May 2024. This document hopes to ensure a cleaner and more sustainable space, by reducing debris from space missions. Signatory countries include Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. These national commitments demonstrate international acceptance and support for this crucial initiative for the long-term sustainability of human activities in orbit.

The Zero Debris Charter is a proactive response to the growing threat of space debris. According to the ESA, there are currently more than a million pieces of space debris larger than a centimeter in Earth’s orbit, each capable of causing significant damage. The charter aims to achieve several key objectives to mitigate this threat:

Mission Arrangements: Missions must include plans for the safe self-deposition or reorbit of satellites and spacecraft after the end of their operational life.

Reduction of Duration in Orbit: The duration of stay of objects in low Earth orbit must be reduced to less than five years after the end of their mission, compared to 25 years currently.

Collision Avoidance: Improved collision avoidance strategies, including automation and coordination of space traffic, must be implemented to minimize collision risks.

Fragmentation Prevention: Satellite health monitoring and robust passivation techniques must be strengthened to avoid internal explosions due to undischarged fuel tanks or batteries.

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