UN and UK launch mission to clear up space junk

Space debris can be a hazard to active satellites and spacecraft

The government and the UN have signed an agreement to clear up space debris in a bid to keep the outer space safe for the next generation of astronauts.

The collaboration aims to reduce the risk of potential satellite and spacecraft collisions with space junk – it is estimated there are currently approximately 170 million objects in orbit that could affect the long-term success of space activities.

The project was awarded £85,000 in government funding to support efforts to promote space sustainability by exploring examples of the sustainable use of space.

In 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, of which the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is Secretariat, adopted the guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, which provide a framework to ensure the safe and sustainable use of space.

This partnership with the UK Space Agency is the first time the UK has funded a project with UNOOSA.

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.”

UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo said: “UNOOSA is working to put sustainability at the heart of global space operations. This project, generously funded by our UK partners, will help us ‘connect the dots’; converting the successes of multilateral policy-making into practice, and help deliver the predictability the global space economy needs to ensure its sustained growth in the years to come.”

If you enjoyed this story you can sign up to our weekly email for Energy Live News – and if you’re interested in hearing more about the journey to net zero by 2050, you can also sign up to the future Net Zero newsletter. 

Latest Podcast