Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) for space-based communications
As we live in an ever increasingly connected world, where instantaneous access to technology yields vast amounts of data, customer and investor demand for the highest standards of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) monitoring in the space environment has taken on greater significance. Making sure that satellites are not damaged by space debris is now important to every single one of us.
Monitoring local and international levels of waste, pollution, food security, supply chain management, climatic events, biodiversity depletion, health and education feed into today’s ESG narrative. Organisations large and small are encouraged globally to change operations to mitigate carbon emissions and environmental degradation.
Global connectivity solutions have the power to support all of the above paradigm shifts in social and business engagement so long as it provides connectivity at any place, at any time, and on demand. The greater the number of connected data points, the greater the reliability, and the more precise and relevant the information is; resulting in stronger analytics, and better-informed business actions and regulation.
We need ubiquitous connectivity because it enables digitalisation, increased efficiency and, ultimately, our ability to decarbonise. Connectivity is unique and powerful as an immediate enabler of carbon reduction, not just for large industries such as manufacturing, transport and energy; small and medium sized enterprises use it to access better data transfer and information management. Transport routes can be planned more efficiently to reduce fuel consumption. IoT can help to manage environments so we use less energy.
Already global space-based communications are of phenomenal importance to our everyday way of life on Earth. From satnav systems to mobile phones, stock markets to air traffic control and navigation at sea, we are reliant on space and are only going to need space more in the future.
As ESG monitoring becomes more prevalent, to help mitigate the impact of how a business or organisation’s assets interact with its surrounding environment, the responsibility falls on leaders in space to assure safe operations in order to help the fight against climate change and evaluate set global targets.
Since the 1950s approximately 11,000 satellites have been flown into orbit. More are being readied for launch than ever before. The World Economic Forum reports some 3,000 dead satellites and rocket stages now orbit the earth, and an estimated million pieces of debris ranging in size from one to ten centimetres in size. Characterizing the space environment, setting priorities for controlling orbital debris risk, and actively avoiding collisions (space traffic management) are necessary. However, these activities alone are not sufficient. Managing the environment is equally critical if we are to achieve sustainable operations in the long term.
"So much of what we do on Earth depends on the infrastructure in space. Space sustainability has become critical now because of the pace of launch of spacecraft. We must have a way to ensure that the spacecraft we are launching have a guaranteed recovery option on board. So that means we need redundancy and the capability of removing spacecraft from orbit, so those orbits stay clean and reusable for future missions."
Lucy Edge, Chief Operations Officer, Satellite Applications Catapult
To successfully monitor and derive meaningful data for a better world requires reliable high-speed connectivity that is global. Network technology that can enable continuous monitoring applications in any location will help set necessary baseline metrics. All data inputs will need to be meaningful, relevant, continuous, and timeous.
ESG is a scored metric intended to help mitigate the impact of how a business or organisation's assets interact with its surrounding environment and society. As the consolidation of ESG metrics continues, and industry players grapple to fulfil and understand their carbon neutral commitments, awareness of space sustainability as a necessary and integral component is growing. Debris mitigation and debris remediation - not generating more debris and cleaning up large, derelict objects already circling the globe - are central to the space environment management (SEM) task ahead. If we are to secure reliable space-based communications, we must find ways for spacecraft ultimately to leave no trace in the space environment.
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