UN and UK sign agreement on space sustainability

SpaceX's Starlink satellites ruining long exposure photo

The United Nations and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement that promotes the safe and sustainable use of space “for future generations.” It’s hoped that the agreement will help reduce the risk of collisions between space debris and vital space satellites as well as find a way to deal with satellite constellations that disrupt other space activities such as astronomy.

Of course, signing an agreement is only a declaration, that’s why the UK has also created an £85,000 fund that will help to fund events and outreach programmes that promote the safe and sustainable use of outer space. The UK’s efforts will also help inform the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and will help all those involved with space to implement measures to achieve the agreement’s framework: the Guidelines for the Long-Term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities (LTS guidelines).

Commenting on the agreement, UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

“As the Earth’s orbit becomes congested with potentially hazardous debris, it’s critical that we work with our international partners to secure the continued safety and sustainability of space.

I am therefore delighted the UK is partnering with the UN to implement and promote these vital standards to all emerging and established space-faring nations, helping to ensure that outer space remains open for our next generation of astronauts.”

The most high-profile satellite constellation is SpaceX’s Starlink which has begun beaming internet down to the Earth for a hefty price. Some major telescope operations have said that they can compensate for the satellites but others have complained that it makes astronomy more difficult. The increase in space satellites also increases the chances of a collision with space debris.

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