Astrocast, an advanced global nanosatellite IoT network, has joined the Net Zero Space initiative, set up by the Paris Peace Forum. Committed to the long-term sustainability of outer space, Astrocast joins satellite operators, launchers, space agencies and academics in the initiative, with a collective aim of achieving sustainable use of outer space for the benefit of all humankind by 2030.
While space exploration is growing, enabling innovation across a range of sectors and use cases, the amount of orbital debris is increasing dangerously. By uniting organisations from the private sector, civil society, and academia, as well as public authorities and regulators, the initiative aims to address this growing issue.
The news forms part of Astrocast’s long-term commitment and pledge to sustainability. The company already qualifies its satellites to withstand launch and space conditions before thrusting them into space. This prevents parts of the satellites from detaching, which not only risks damaging the rocket and other satellites, but also contaminating the cosmos with fragments.
In order to keep track of satellites and prevent collisions, Astrocast also works closely with the 18th Space Control Squadron to detect when objects come too close to each other (this organisation tracks all man-made objects in Earth orbit). If the object is non-active (space debris), Astrocast executes an immediate collision avoidance manoeuvre. In the case of active objects (satellites), the operator will first be contacted to coordinate an avoidance manoeuvre. Equipping satellites with a unique on-board propulsion system enables Astrocast to actively control its satellites and perform these manoeuvres.
In addition, Astrocast has successfully performed re-entry analysis to ensure its satellites can safely de-orbit. The company can achieve this by actively lowering the satellite’s orbit to speed up its re-entry, or leveraging the aerodynamic drag without performing any manoeuvre. This is important under European Space Agency (ESA) guidelines, which state that operators should dispose of a satellite within 25 years from the end of its mission – either to a graveyard orbit or by bringing it back to Earth to be destroyed in the atmosphere.
Commenting on the news, Laurent Vieira de Mello, COO at Astrocast, says, “With the low Earth orbit set to host around 100,000 satellites by 2030, the issue of space debris needs to be addressed urgently. In joining the ‘Net Zero Space’ initiative, we pledge to strengthen our ongoing commitment to sustainability. Ensuring all satellites are equipped with an on-board propulsion system enables Astrocast to perform vital manoeuvres to prevent collisions and therefore avoid contaminating the cosmos. In addition, further developing our re-entry analysis allows us to make sure that satellites can safely de-orbit. We are proud to join this initiative to work alongside space agencies, launchers and academics to preserve the sustainability of space and missions in the future.”
Jerome Barbier, Head of Outer Space, Digital and Economic Issues at the Paris Peace Forum, concludes, “Ongoing scientific research as well as the international consensus among the space community indicates that collective, concrete steps must be taken to prevent a rapid degradation of Earth’s orbital environment. By launching the ‘Net Zero Space’ initiative, we are calling for a global commitment to achieving sustainable use of outer space by 2030 and are delighted to have Astrocast on board.”
This news coincides with the recent introduction of the space sustainability rating (SSR), set up by the World Economic Forum, along with other international partners. From this year, spacecrafts and satellites operators will be scored based on measures taken to avoid collisions, satellites de-orbiting plans and other space debris mitigation techniques.