Astroscale Holdings Inc., the market-leader in developing technology and services to remove space debris and secure long-term orbital sustainability, announced on 4 May 2020 that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Professor Chris Newman, Professor of Space Law and Policy at Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK, to collaborate on investigating end-of-life standards and practices from various industries, such as oil and nuclear energy. The project will highlight the need for shared knowledge from such decommissioning initiatives which can be applied to the satellite industry, encouraging responsible behavior in space and improving space environmental protection.
The oil and nuclear industries demonstrate a commitment to environmental responsibility through various decommissioning policies and strategies. With the health and safety of people and the environment the primary concern, decommissioning strategies focus on returning the environment to its natural state. Legal and regulatory frameworks have been enacted in many countries, creating decommissioning funds and ensuring that the provision of end-of-life capabilities are integral in licensing processes. While no regulations or standardization for end-of-life practices currently exist in the satellite industry, there are lessons which can be learned and applied from these industries.
“This project is a call to action for collaboration across sectors and it is a natural fit for Astroscale to represent the satellite industry. As we are leading the market in the development of the innovative technology necessary for end-of-life solutions, we also want to lead the development of the other aspects required for a sustainable space ecosystem,” said Harriet Brettle, Head of Business Analysis at Astroscale. “Through this collaboration, we seek to identify innovative legal frameworks, policies and business models that can move the satellite industry towards a more sustainable future.”
Professor Chris Newman echoed the exciting nature of the collaboration: “The pioneering research and teaching in Space Law and Policy which is occurring at Northumbria University makes us an ideal institution to work with the world-leading team at Astroscale. This is an opportunity to change the way in which space is managed and to further embed sustainable practices in outer space activity.”
The first working paper with Northumbria University is scheduled to be published later this year.