SWF PREPRINT Space Sustainability


Dr. Peter Martinez

Posting date:

October 30, 2023




The Earth’s limited orbital environment is becoming increasingly congested with active satellites, contaminated with orbital debris, and contested by a growing number of governmental, military, and commercial space actors. This has raised concerns about the long-term sustainability of outer space activities that parallels the way in which concerns over environmental degradation later gave rise to the broader concept of sustainable development on Earth. This article traces the development of the concept of space sustainability from the early 2000s and its connection with terrestrial sustainability. The article unpacks space sustainability into its constituent and interrelated dimensions of space governance, orbital congestion, space security, and international cooperation and competition. It then reviews the role of the United Nations in elaborating the concept of space sustainability and describes a set of 21 international guidelines (‘LTS Guidelines’) adopted by the United Nations in 2019 to promote the sustainable use of outer space.


space sustainability, space security, sustainable development


Peter Martinez, "Space Sustainability", SWF Preprint PP23/03, 2023.

Last updated on October 31, 2023