The Need for Space Sustainability - UPSC Current Affairs

The Need for Space Sustainability

Here’s our today’s edition of Current Affairs Dialog box wherein we will discuss The Need for Space Sustainability in detail.

Navigate through the article to get useful insights on the topic and enhance your UPSC preparation. Its relevance to the CSE syllabus is mentioned below:

For Prelims: Space Sustainability, Space Debris, United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), UK’s Astro Carto Model, ISRO, Project – NETRA, SPADEX, In-SPACe

For Mains: Science and Technology, Space Sustainability.

Probable Mains Question

In the race of space explorations, the junk in the form of space debris is increasing with an alarming rate. What are the measures being taken and what more needs to be done to tackle the problem of Space Debris?

Context

A new ‘Plan for Space Sustainability’ has been announced by the UK, at the fourth summit for Space Sustainability, hosted by the UK, in London, in collaboration with the Secure World Foundation, on 23 June 2022.

Also Read: Eco-Sensitive Zones

About Need for Sustainability in Outer Space

  • Orbital crowding 
    • It occurs due to the emergence of large constellations and complex satellites, which increases the risk of collisions and interference with radio frequencies.
    • The increased number of players in outer space, increases the complexity of missions, safety issues, and slot allotment issues.
  • Space Debris It is also known as space junk, and it is an object, thing, or piece of machinery or debris left by humans in space, which is also a matter of concern.
  • Weather threats Threats such as solar and magnetic storms, which potentially damage communication systems, also need to be addressed.
  • The terrestrial carbon footprint There is an urgency to increase efforts to identify these footprints of outer space missions.

Measures for the Sustainability of Outer Space

  • To ensure the sustainability of outer space activities, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) adopted a set of 21 voluntary, non-binding guidelines, in 2019.
  • Plan For Space Sustainability:
    • U.K.’s Astro Carta model is based on the Artemis Accords model for sustainable space exploration. 
    • It is a timely move by the UK that will serve as a model for other space programs.
    • It proposes active debris removal and in-orbit servicing.
    • Aims –
      • It aims to “set a global commercial framework for the insurability, the licensing and the regulation of commercial satellites.”
      • It also aims to encourage a thriving ecosystem by reducing the cost for those who comply with the best sustainability standards.
    • It provides four primary elements: 
      • to review the regulatory framework of the U.K.’s orbital activity; 
      • to work with international organizations such as the G-7 and the UN to emphasize space sustainability; 
      • to try and develop safety and quality-related metrics to ensure sustainability;
      • Funding of $6.1 million on active debris removal. 

Also Watch:

India’s Stand on Space Sustainability

  • Project NETRA – It was initiated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), to monitor space debris and other hazards. NETRA, or Network for space object Tracking and Analysis, is an early warning system in space to detect debris and other hazards to Indian satellites.
  • Space Docking Experiment (SPADEX) – It is a docking experiment of ISRO, to provide in-orbit servicing (re-fuelling and others).
  • A New Pact – India and the US have signed a pact for monitoring space objects, at the 2+2 dialogue, in April 2022.
  • In-SPACe – The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Center (In-SPACe), an autonomous agency was announced in June 2020, for the promotion, encouragement, and regulation of space activities.
  • Startups – In India startups like Agnikul and Skyroot, are developing launch vehicles for small payloads, whereas Dhruva Space, works on high-tech solar panels for satellites and satellite deployers.

Way Forward

  • There is still a need to have long-term sustainability plans look toward space research.
  • There is also a need to develop appropriate technology to ensure the reuse and recycling of satellites at every stage.
  • Private sectors should be encouraged with a set of sustainability guidelines to develop models that enhance operations’ safety and reduce debris footprint.
  • To further aid the planning on protecting outer space, there is also a need to have a highly effective surveillance system.

Source: The Hindu

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