SPACE AND SUSTAINABILITY
Currently more than 50% of the world’s climate change data comes from satellites, as highlighted at COP26 by astronaut Tim Peake. It is only by using satellite data that we are able to get a true picture of what is happening, what is changing and what impacts any policies to mitigate emissions are actually having. Satellites are also crucial in making heavy polluting industries more efficient.
However, these technologies can only truly be part of the solution if they are being launched in more responsible ways.
This is where Spaceport Cornwall comes in with the ambition to be the most sustainable Spaceport in the world and to challenge the space launch industry to overhaul their practices. As the Spaceport is located at an existing operational airport with little new infrastructure and a low number of high quality launches, the impact of launch in Cornwall will be very low. In 2019, Spaceport Cornwall produced their first carbon impact report, which showed that at the height of activities (12 launches a year in 2030), overall carbon emissions would add 0.04-0.1% to the overall emissions in Cornwall.
Richard Branson on Sustainability with Small Satellites
Spaceport Cornwall’s Sustainability
Cornwall Council has committed to the Spaceport being net zero by 2030, and the team are going beyond just mitigation or offsetting, and looking at decreasing the impact all together.
Spaceport Cornwall is the first spaceport in the world to carry out a full carbon impact assessment prior to launch and is working on the first Sustainability Impact Report and Action Plan to be released in January 2022.
This will initially be supported by four projects:
- Kernow Sat 1: Spaceport Cornwall is launching an environmental satellite on their first launch called Kernow Sat 1. This will monitor the oceans around Cornwall to identify areas for sea grass restoration, monitor kelp forests, and monitor pollution levels.
- Centre for Space Technologies: This world-class R&D facility at Spaceport Cornwall focused on environmental intelligence and space, as well as the technology and innovations needed to make satellites, their integration and use more sustainable.
- Education: Spaceport Cornwall has engaged with thousands of school children across Cornwall raising aspirations and inspiring them to go into STEM careers. At the heart of this is highlighting how satellite applications can be used to fight climate change.
- On-site Activities: From increasing biodiversity by 10% on-site, to being home to Eden Project’s National Wildflower collection, to introducing a site-wide decarbonisation plan, Spaceport Cornwall will continue to implement sustainable practices on the ground, as well as in space.