ESSI Bulletin #02: Scoping the Space Sustainability Principles 14 August 2023

Category: Policy Making, Industry, Public

Welcome to bulletin #02. While August means holidays for many, work at the Earth & Space Sustainability Initiative (ESSI) continues apace.


Scoping the Space Sustainability Principles (SSPs) has begun. The plan is to take the subject areas listed in the annex to the Memorandum of Principles on Space Sustainability, and expand each of them into concise documents that capture the essence of the subject area. These documents will go into considerably more detail but will stop short of outright technicality. With your help we will push the boundaries of these subject areas to give the Space Sustainability Principles (SSPs) true relevancy, rather than aim for the lowest common denominator.


During the scoping work, it has become obvious that some reorganisation within the principles is necessary. We had already reported in bulletin #01 that Dark and quiet skies would be separated. We have now moved the discussion of the sustainable use of spectrum and RFI co-ordination out of the Supporting operations in space and spectrum sustainability principle and into Quiet skies.

Other changes are that space weather moves from Earth monitoring into Supporting operation in space, and propulsion and fuel not associated with launch moves from Launch and propulsion into Spacecraft design and manufacture. We will also include a section on satellite control.


The full list of Space Sustainability Principles are:

            1   Spacecraft design, manufacture and propulsion

            2   Launch

            3   Supporting operations in space and space weather

            4   Rendezvous and Proximity Operations

            5   Supporting end of life and disposal

            6   Space debris mitigation

            7   Dark skies

            8   Quiet skies and spectrum sustainability

            9   Earth monitoring

            10 Resource management


Although work on all SSPs has begun, some will naturally move faster than others. This is because some of the areas covered by the principles will already be more mature than others. These documents will then form the basis from which internationally recognised standards can be derived.


Our negotiations with the British Standards Institute (BSI) continue, becoming ever more detailed as both organisations understand how the other works in order to make the transition from Space Sustainability Principle into Space Sustainability Standard as quick and efficiently as possible.


The three SSPs that we believe can move quickest are: Launch; Supporting operations in space and space weather; and Dark skies.


Elsewhere in ESSI, we have been in demand to speak at conferences. This will allow us to engage with an even wider community of space sector stakeholders. Before the end of the year, ESSI’s directors will be speaking at the UNIDIR Outer Space Security Conference 2023, the Science Summit at UN General Assembly, the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) conference and the 19th Appleton Space Conference. More details coming soon.


It is both exciting and daunting how much work lies ahead, but with your help we are making progress. Please send this newsletter to anyone you think would benefit from it.

By working together we can enhance and develop the benefits of space for all life and future generations.


The Earth & Space Sustainability Initiative is funded by the UK Space Agency.

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