Why Care About Space Sustainability?

In a world inundated with many complex and urgent problems, why does space sustainability matter? 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 (including financial transactions, internet, telephone, data transfer and television), navigation, scientific exploration, or economic development. Indeed, human spaceflight in Earth orbit could come to an end. Lack of sustainability would mean that emerging space countries, especially, could face insurmountable problems in using outer space effectively. Addressing the need for space sustainability now means we can prevent negative trends from becoming norms, and ensure that outer space can be used by all countries, not just technologically sophisticated ones.

Hurricane Sandy NASA GOES

NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite captured this visible image of Hurricane Sandy battering the U.S. East coast on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 at 9:10 a.m. EDT. Sandy’s center was about 500 km south-southeast of New York City. Tropical Storm force winds extend about 1600 km in diameter. Courtesy of NOAA GOES Project.

Next: The Persistent Problem of Orbital Debris

Last updated on April 2, 2013