The issue of space debris and the need for collaboration between countries to reduce costs, increase sustainability and promote space inclusion were among the topics raised during the 'Space4Sustainability' forum organised by the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
As part of Space Week, the event brought together several Italian space experts and industry leaders, including Simonetta Di Pippo, director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), who spoke about 'Access to Space for All', a joint initiative of UNOOSA, space agencies, research institutions and industry.
Di Pippo noted that "this initiative has provided opportunities for other countries to enter space. Two recent examples are the University of Nairobi's nano-satellite project and another satellite project by the University of Malaysia. All this has highlighted the need for safety standards and protocols, and UNOOSA is actively involved in the search for solutions.
Paulo Glisenti, general curator of the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai, said of the activity on the Italian infrastructure: "The Italian Pavilion is full of facilities linked to the space economy. This forum is an important initiative because it not only highlights the hardware and software that makes space accessible to all countries, but more importantly, it demonstrates how smaller nations can reap its benefits at lower costs. As Expo 2020 is a wide-reaching event, it serves as an excellent platform to discuss space-related issues."
Professor Michèle Lavagna, Professor of Flight Mechanics at the Politecnico di Milano, Italy, said that effective space exploration could go a long way to better manage our planet by solving some of its problems, but warned that the accumulation of space debris had reached alarming proportions: there have been 6,110 launches since 1957. An estimated 29,430 catalogued objects are in space, 26% of them satellites and 16% still operational. Some 2,300 fragments are flying in space at speeds of between 16,000 and 20,000 km/hour. We need to find ways to manage, control or destroy them, and technologies are being developed for that purpose. We have been generating space debris for 60 years, and it could take up to 130 years to restore it to normal".
Giulio Ranzo, CEO of Aveo, the Italian space propulsion company, noted that "the growing demand for space technology and equipment is driving down costs. Several SMEs are entering this booming field. I am confident that these developments will make space accessible to a large number of countries around the world".
Massimo Comparini, CEO of Thales Alenia Space, said: "There have been impressive advances in the technology enabling the conquest of space, but more needs to be done, especially in the area of sustainability. Engineers and researchers must collaborate to address the challenges facing space exploration and share information on how to make space activity more sustainable".
Text, photos and videos: Dubai Expo 2020.