Our planet is surrounded by spacecraft carrying out important work to study our changing climate, deliver global communication and navigation services and help us answer important scientific questions.
But some of their orbits are getting crowded and increasingly churning with deadly, fast-moving pieces of defunct satellites and rockets that threaten our future in space.
In 2002, the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) published the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines. The measures described in the guidelines set out how to design, fly, and dispose of space missions in ways that prevent the creation of further debris. They were major step for the protection of our important orbits and have served as the baseline for space policy, national legislation and technical standards for two decades.
Since 2016, ESA’s Space Debris Office has published an annual Space Environment Report to provide a transparent overview of global space activities and determine how well these and other international debris-reduction measures are improving the long-term sustainability of spaceflight.