|Introduction: Explain Space Sustainability.|
Body: Explain some threats to space sustainability. Also suggest some steps taken by India to ensure space sustainability.Conclusion: Write a way forward.
Space sustainability aims to maintain the safety and health of the space environment. Similar to sustainability initiatives on Earth, space sustainability seeks to use the environment of space to meet the current needs of society without compromising the needs of future generations. If outer space is not safe, secure, and peaceful, the ability to use it could be denied to all. We would be unable to use the space environment for national security purposes, Earth observation, telecommunications, navigation, scientific exploration, or economic development.
- With the emergence of large constellations and complex satellites, there is a risk of collisions and interference with radio frequencies.
- Orbital crowding poses a direct threat to the operations and safety of a mission and is likely to cause legal and insurance-related conflicts.
- Space debris is another prominent issue. After the completion of a mission, an ‘end-of-life protocol’ requires space objects to be moved to the graveyard orbit or to a low altitude. Neither of the options are sustainable in the long run.
- Other causes of concern are solar and magnetic storms which potentially damage communication systems.
Steps taken by India to ensure space sustainability:
- India hosts promising start-ups like Agnikul and Skyroot, which are developing launch vehicles for small payloads, and Dhruva Space, which works on high-tech solar panels for satellites and satellite deployers.
- ISRO has initiated ‘Project NETRA’ to monitor space debris which would aid further planning on protecting space assets.
- India and the U.S. signed a new pact for monitoring space objects at the 2+2 dialogue. The controlled anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) tests and the risk of collisions must be collectively addressed.
- To provide in-orbit servicing, ISRO is developing a docking experiment called ‘SPADEX’. This would not only ensure the longevity of a mission but would also provide a futuristic option to combine missions/experiments.
The emerging private sector could be encouraged with a set of sustainability guidelines to ensure optimum utilisation of resources and increase the safety and productivity of missions. A collective effort by all space players, with the active role of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), is needed to set equitable standards for the ease of activities.