Space Sustainability: A Roadmap for Scotland

The new strategy Space Sustainability, A Roadmap for Scotland, charts a path to a more sustainable Scottish space sector through a series of short, medium and long-term work packages. The roadmap was developed in consultation with leading international experts in space sustainability and stakeholders across the UK space sector, as well as extensive engagement with other industries that have embarked upon journeys towards a more environmentally conscious approach in support of Net Zero ambitions, in order to find relevant, transferable examples of effective practice. It is believed to be the first strategic document of its kind to address this specific challenge. The Roadmap will allow Scotland to play a leading role in demonstrating a sustainable approach to spacefaring, and will also help the UK sector contribute to national net zero goals. Taken as a whole, the recommendations in the Roadmap create a unique opportunity to ensure that the Scottish space sector develops sustainably with a minimum impact on both the orbital and terrestrial environment.

The space sector in Scotland is well established and has ambitious growth plans across its end-to-end value chain. The Scottish Government and its economic development agencies have identified the industry as a key opportunity for future economic growth, placing it among its top priority markets. With the country contributing more space sector employment per capita than anywhere else in the UK, Scotland’s supporting role in the wider UK space ecosystem is more crucial than ever.

The Scottish Space Strategy, published in 2021, identified sustainability as a key thread of Scotland’s approach to space. Scottish Enterprise sought to turn this strategic intent into a co-ordinated programme of action for industry, academia, and the public sector through the development of a sustainability roadmap which ties in with the wider UK’s Plan for Space Sustainability. This report addresses that intent and was prepared jointly by AstroAgency Ltd and Optimat Ltd, building upon the work of Space Scotland’s Environmental Task Force and 2021’s Sustainable Space Challenges initiative.

The Roadmap consists of 11 detailed Work Packages organised into three thematic areas: Leadership, In-Orbit, Environment and Net Zero. The Leadership work packages focus on planning, public commitments to sustainability, and national or international promotion of space sustainability. The In-Orbit work packages chart a path to sustainable space operations and contain actions to encourage responsible spacecraft operations and space debris mitigation. Finally, the Environment & Net Zero work packages chart a path towards understanding and mitigating the emissions and environmental impacts of the space sector.

The Roadmap also sets out 3 goals for the sector to achieve by 2045, encompassing sustainability both on the ground and in orbit, as well as the reduction of emissions by the space sector. The first actions in the Roadmap are already being acted upon by Space Scotland and its partners in industry, academia, and government. Through their actions, the Roadmap’s recommendations are being transformed into tangible, real-world results.