International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

What is Zero Debris Charter?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Zero Debris Charter; Kessler syndrome.

Why in the News?

  • The Zero Debris Charter was signed by twelve nations and the European Space Agency (ESA) at the ESA/EU Space Council.

Zero Debris Charter

    • The Zero Debris Charter was unveiled at the ESA Space Summit in Seville, Spain, in November 2023.
    • The Charter was facilitated by ESA’s Protection of Space AssetsAccelerator and developed through extensive collaboration among various space actors.
  • Objectives:
  • To achieve debris neutrality in space by 2030.
  • Long-term sustainability of human activities in Earth orbit.
  • Members:
    • The signatory countries are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
    • The ESA signed as an International Organization.

Community Support and Leadership

  • Over 100 organizations are expected to sign the Charter in the coming months.
  • This includes national space agencies, satellite manufacturers, space startups, and astronomical societies.

Space Debris Challenges

  • ESA estimates over one million pieces of space debris larger than 1 cm in Earth orbit.
  • These debris pieces pose significant risks to satellites and astronauts.

Threats posed by Space Debris

Space debris also leads to two major risks:

  1. It creates unusable regions of the orbit due to excessive debris, and
  2. Leads to the ‘Kessler syndrome’ – the creation of more debris due to cascading collisions resulting from one collision.

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