Space Zero Debris Charter

Space Zero Debris Charter



Why in the News?


Recently, Space Zero Debris Charter was signed by Twelve countries at the ESA/EU Council to make Space activities debris-free by 2030. The twelve nations that have signed the Zero Debris Charter at the ESA/EU Space Council are:

Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.


What is the Zero Debris Charter?


  • Charter Principles: The charter outlines key guiding principles that stress the importance of international collaboration and coordinated efforts to address space debris issues effectively.
  • Goals: The charter sets ambitious, collaboratively defined goals for zero debris by 2030.
  • Debris Mitigation: The charter aims to lower the likelihood of space debris creation to less than 1 in 1,000 per object, ensuring that space missions are designed to minimize debris production.
  • Global Collaboration: The charter highlights the need for worldwide cooperation to facilitate data sharing, coordinated responses, and the pooling of resources and expertise to tackle space debris effectively.
  • Long-term Sustainability: The charter focuses on maintaining the long-term sustainability of space activities by addressing the escalating problem of space debris and encouraging responsible conduct in space operations.


Significant Impact of Zero Debris Charter


  • Enhanced Safety: The charter’s goal of making space activities debris-neutral by 2030 aims to improve the safety of space missions by minimizing collision risks with space debris, thereby protecting spacecraft, satellites, and astronauts.
  • Sustainability: Focusing on mitigating space debris, the charter seeks to ensure the long-term sustainability of space activities, keeping orbits viable for future missions and decreasing the chances of uncontrolled re-entries or collisions with debris.
  • Technological Innovation: The Zero Debris Charter will spur technological advancements in debris mitigation and remediation, leading to the development of sophisticated systems for cleaning up space debris and enhancing the safety of space operations.
  • Global Collaboration: Emphasizing international cooperation, the charter promotes collaboration among countries and organizations to address the challenges posed by space debris collectively.
  • Cost Reduction: By lowering the risk of collisions with space debris, the charter aims to reduce costs related to collision avoidance manoeuvres and spacecraft protection, making space missions more economically efficient over time.
  • Preservation of Space Assets: The Zero Debris Charter seeks to safeguard valuable space assets, such as satellites and spacecraft, from potential damage caused by space debris, ensuring their longevity and functionality for future missions.


Major Global Initiatives to Eliminate the Space Debris


  • Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC): Formed in 1993, the IADC is an international governmental forum that coordinates efforts among spacefaring nations to tackle space debris issues.
  • United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS): COPUOS focuses on creating guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, including measures to mitigate space debris.
  • European Space Agency (ESA) Clean Space Initiative: The ESA’s Clean Space Initiative aims to reduce space debris and promote sustainable space activities.
  • Project NETRA: India’s ISRO has developed Project NETRA, an early warning system to detect debris and other hazards to Indian satellites.
  • System for Safe and Sustainable Operations Management (IS 4 OM): ISRO has established IS 4 OM to monitor objects that pose collision threats continuously, predict space debris’s evolution, and mitigate associated risks.
  • Centre for Space Debris Research: ISRO has set up the Centre for Space Debris Research to monitor and mitigate the threat posed by space debris.
  • Global Commons Perspective: This approach views space debris as a collective action issue within a global commons, advocating for polycentric governance to enhance communication among governance nodes, empower lower-level decision-making, and build stakeholder trust.
  • Discourse Network Analysis: This analysis explores the emerging global socio-technical regime for addressing space debris, emphasizing the need for sustainability in orbit and the development of technological solutions.


Impact of high Space Debris 


  • Collision Risks: Space debris heightens the risk of collisions between operational satellites and debris, potentially damaging or destroying satellites. This can lead to substantial financial losses and disruptions in essential services such as communication and navigation.
  • Orbital Congestion: The accumulation of space debris in certain orbital regions can restrict the availability of desirable orbital slots for new satellites, complicating the launch and operation of new missions.
  • Increased Costs: Managing space debris increases satellite operational costs due to the need for additional resources for collision avoidance manoeuvres, debris mitigation, and maintenance, significantly raising the overall expense of satellite operations.
  • Reduced Lifespan: Space debris can damage key components like solar panels, shortening satellites’ lifespans. This can lead to premature satellite retirement and increased costs for replacement or repair.
  • Threat to Marine Life: Large pieces of space debris that fall into the oceans can endanger marine life and contribute to pollution.
  • Impact on Space Situational Awareness: Space debris can compromise the effectiveness of space situational awareness systems, making it more difficult to monitor and track operational satellites and other space objects.
  • Increased Complexity: The growing volume of space debris necessitates more complex and sophisticated tracking and mitigation strategies, which can be resource-intensive and costly.


Kessler Syndrome


  • Kessler Syndrome, also known as the Kessler Effect or collisional cascading, is a theoretical scenario in which the density of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade effect. This means that each collision generates more debris, which in turn increases the likelihood of further collisions. The concern is that this self-sustaining chain reaction could significantly increase space debris, rendering certain orbits unusable and posing a severe risk to satellites, space missions, and the International Space Station (ISS). 


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Prelims Based Question


Q1. Consider the following statements regarding Project NETRA:

  1. It is one of the Flagship Projects of DRDO.
  2. Under the project, DRDO plans to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle to surveil border districts.

Choose the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a). 1 Only

(b). 2 Only

(c). Both 1 and 2

(d). Neither 1 nor 2




Mains Based Question


Q1.What are the major concerns associated with Space debris in Satellite operations? How are various countries and organisations responding to the issue of Space debris? 


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