Next year’s Hollywood film Gravity features George Clooney stranded in orbit by cascading space junk. The threat is genuine, with debris levels rising steadily. ESA’s new Clean Space initiative is developing methods of preserving near-Earth space – and the terrestrial environment, too.
Responding to public environmental concerns, Clean Space aims to reduce the environmental effect of Europe’s space activities, cutting waste and pollution on Earth and in orbit.
Industry is contributing to ESA’s draft plans for developing Clean Space technologies: new tools to assess environmental effects, more eco-friendly replacements for materials and techniques, and ways to halt the production of more space debris and bring down existing debris levels.