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Why ESSI Does It

 

 

Satellite trails cross the sky over the Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber, Pembrokeshire
Satellite trails over Pentre Ifan Burial Chamber, Pembrokeshire, Wales, courtesy Max Alexander, Our Fragile Space.

We stand on a watershed in history: one that marks a fundamental change in the way we interact with space. We are moving from the era of pioneering space exploration to one of intensive commercial, scientific and social utilisation. As a result, we have tied Earth and space together. 

 

Never before have we possessed the means to launch so many satellites and use them in such a wide variety of ways to benefit life on Earth. And while the Universe is probably infinite in extent, the space around the Earth, or around the Moon, or any other celestial body in the Solar System is not.

 



Brokers working at computers screens in Frankfurt Stock Exchange
Frankfurt Stock Exchange, courtesy Max Alexander, Our Fragile Space.

In common with every environment on Earth, space has a unique set of conditions and resources. It is therefore essential for us to fully define these properties, understand their limits and then ensure that we operate within sustainable boundaries, so that future generations can continue to benefit from the unique opportunities that space offers.

 

The time to do this is now. We are increasingly dealing with the problems that the growth in orbital usage is bringing. The space above us grows more congested, debris is increasing, satellites streak through vital astronomical images, and rocket launches pollute the atmosphere. Yet we have no firm understanding of the capacity of space to withstand such usage.

 



Operators work behind computer screens in the Eumetsat control room
The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, courtesy Max Alexander, Our Fragile Space.

So, while the cultural, scientific, engineering and economic benefits of space are unquestionable, they must be balanced against the inevitable environmental and subsequently human cost of their usage.

 

 

What does ESSI mean to you?