ESA's Ambitious Zero Debris Charter Sets a New Course for Space Sustainability

ESA's Ambitious Zero Debris Charter Sets a New Course for Space Sustainability

More satellites were launched in the last few years than the entire six decades of space exploration. 130 million pieces of space debris larger than a millimeter orbit Earth, threatening satellites now and in the future. Once a week, a satellite or rocket body reenters uncontrolled through our atmosphere. Behaviors in space have to change. 

Building on a decade of work carried out across the Agency, ESA has introduced its bold internal standard to significantly limit the production of debris in Earth and Lunar orbits by 2030 for all the Agency's future missions, programs and activities: ESA’s ‘Zero Debris approach’.

However space exploration is a global endeavor for the shared benefit of humankind, and the long-term sustainability of space will require action and change from all. ESA is facilitating the Zero Debris Charter: a global initiative for all space entities to sign and follow towards the shared goal of a Zero Debris future. After months of intense and fast-paced collective effort, the Zero Debris Charter has been finalized.

“As space infrastructure has become the backbone of our modern society, the proliferation of space debris is threatening our way of life. Now is the time to act as a community to channel our collective efforts,” said ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher. “To implement the Zero Debris Charter, ESA will focus on developing ground-breaking technologies for satellite end-of-life disposal, in-orbit servicing, and active debris removal. In addition, ESA will work hand-in-hand with institutions in charge of regulatory aspects.”

The 2023 Space Summit in Seville marks the opening of the period of registration of intent to sign the Zero Debris Charter.

Zero Debris by 2030

In 2022, ESA Member States encouraged the Agency to implement “a Zero Debris approach for its missions; and to encourage partners and other actors to pursue similar paths”. ESA is undergoing a profound internal transformation to mitigate the creation of space debris and remedy what's already up there by 2030, through its Zero Debris approach. From designing and building new missions to flying and responsibly disposing of them, ESA's Zero Debris approach is seeing a bold new standard that will apply to all ESA missions and partnerships from 2030, with continual advancements and improvements in the years before.

But the space debris problem is a global one, and the Zero Debris Charter is the first initiative of its kind to bring together the largest array and variety of space actors around the world with the joint goal of creating no more debris by 2030 and making possible the long-term sustainability of space activities. More than 40 organizations have actively engaged in the open and collaborative development of the Charter, now released and ready for signatures from “any entity demonstrating a strong commitment to advancing space safety and sustainability”: join the Zero Debris Community and play a vital role in shaping the global response to the space debris problem.

By gathering a wide array of space entities to define ambitious and measurable space debris mitigation and remediation targets for 2030, the Zero Debris Charter has already:

  • Built a diverse community of actors in Europe and beyond, committed to further advancing space safety and sustainability, including industrial players of all sizes, government agencies, international organisations, universities and research centres, non-profit foundations and more. 
  • Developed a precise and common vision of space sustainability for 2030 – combining far-reaching guiding principles and highly ambitious yet realistic technical targets on which to build an ambitious Zero Debris roadmap, driving global space debris mitigation and remediation efforts. 

“We are delighted that the Charter was finalized on 16 October 2023 and released today, at the occasion of the Space Summit 2023,” explains Quentin Verspieren, Protect Accelerator Coordinator. “Based on a draft proposed by ESA, we have analyzed, debated, and rewritten every single line of the Charter through a fully open and collaborative process. Beyond having converged on such an ambitious document in record time, our exchanges revealed a strong consensus in Europe and beyond on the need to go further than existing space safety and sustainability practices.”

The Zero Debris Charter is just the beginning, the starting point for ambitious, collective activities that will build the technologies, new economies, and policies required to make Zero Debris a reality. ESA invites any space actor to join the Zero Debris community and help achieve a Zero Debris future by 2030.

Click here to learn more about ESA's Zero Debris Approach.

Publisher: SatNow
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GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013