Since 2016, ESA has published its annual Space Environment Report to provide a transparent overview of global space activities and determine how well international space debris mitigation measures and new technologies are improving the long-term sustainability of spaceflight.
According to the report, the first years of this decade have marked a new era for spaceflight. More satellites were launched into orbit in 2021 than ever before, up from last year’s previous record. Many of these satellites form part of large commercial constellations used to provide communication services around the globe. They offer new services, but will pose a challenge to long-term sustainability.
Meanwhile, the number of tracked debris objects in orbit has risen to more than 30,000. While many rocket bodies are removed from the busiest orbital highways after delivering their payload into orbit, not enough of these payloads are themselves safely removed at the end of their mission.
While global adherence to space debris mitigation guidelines is improving, there is still lots of work to be done to make our behaviour in space sustainable.
For more information please read the full report.