The Scottish space sector has unveiled ambitious plans to reduce its impact on the environment with the publication of a new sustainable space roadmap, the first of its kind on Earth.
The Scottish Space Sustainability Roadmap sets out the steps needed to achieve the long-term goals of Scottish space missions, which are to be space debris neutral, zero emissions created from on-the-ground activities, and for Scotland to gain global recognition as a leader in sustainable space.
National and international expert interviews, in-depth study into other sustainability initiatives and consultation with the space industry informed the roadmap contents, which addresses areas such as the environmental impacts of building, fuelling, and launching satellites, as well as the importance of promoting satellite data for environmental monitoring.
Scottish Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “Scotland’s space industry has enormous growth potential and is rightly recognised as a key new market opportunity within the Scottish government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.
“Last year, the Scottish government and partners set out our collective ambition for Scotland to become Europe’s leading space nation, taking a £4 billion share of the global space market and creating 20,000 jobs by 2030.
“The government recognises the key role of space in the global fight against climate change. The Scottish space sector shares this collective responsibility and is already innovating through the use of greener fuels, lightweight materials, smart design and reusability.”
At a launch ceremony in Edinburgh, McKee explained the Scottish Space Sustainability Roadmap is the next step in helping the sector reach net zero by 2045 and in setting an example for other nations.
Developed in collaboration with Space Scotland’s Environmental Task Force and funded by Scottish Enterprise, the roadmap has been produced by space strategy firm AstroAgency in partnership with Glasgow-based Optimat.
Jane Martin, managing director at Scottish Enterprise, said: “It’s almost a year since Glasgow hosted COP26, where world leaders gathered to address climate change and the global action needed. This roadmap represents another historic moment in our journey towards net zero and is further proof of Scotland’s commitment to take positive environmental action.”
Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “The UK is taking a global lead on space sustainability. We’re developing new missions and capabilities to improve how we track objects in orbit and accelerate technologies such as active debris removal, while setting new standards and working closely with international partners to keep space open for future generations.
“We’re also backing missions to help monitor and tackle climate change, such as the UK-built Biomass satellite, which will measure carbon stored by the world's forests, and the new FORUM mission, which will provide unique measurements of our planet’s infra-red energy to improve our understanding of our climate.”
Photo (from left): Kristina Tamane, Space Sector Business Development Lead at University of Edinburgh and Space Scotland Environmental Task Force Co-Chair; Jane Martin, managing director at Scottish Enterprise; Business Minister Ivan McKee; Dr Ashley Stewart, Optimat; Daniel Smith, AstroAgency and Space Scotland Environmental Task Force Co-Chair.