ESA's Zero Debris Charter aims to limit orbital debris, with 12 countries already signed on. Discover the details and future plans for this initiative.

ESA Lines Up Initial Signatories for Zero Debris Charter

The European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully lined up a dozen countries to sign the Zero Debris Charter. This initiative aims to limit the creation of orbital debris. Announced on May 22, this charter marks a significant step toward achieving sustainable space operations. Additionally, many companies are expected to follow suit soon.

Participating Countries

Twelve countries, along with ESA, have signed the Zero Debris Charter: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Nine of these countries are full ESA members. Meanwhile, Lithuania and Slovakia are associate members, and Cyprus has a cooperation agreement with ESA.

Goals of the Charter

The Zero Debris Charter is a non-binding agreement developed in response to a call from ESA member states at the 2022 ESA ministerial meeting. The goal is to adopt a “zero debris” approach to missions, aiming for no net addition of debris in orbit by 2030. Consequently, ESA released the charter for review at a European space summit in Seville, Spain, last November.

The charter outlines specific targets to be met by 2030, including:

  • Reducing the risk of satellite collisions or breakups to no greater than 1-in-1,000.
  • Keeping the risk of casualties from reentering satellite debris significantly lower than 1-in-10,000.
  • Ensuring the timely removal of satellites from low Earth orbit and the geostationary belt with a success probability of at least 99%.

Europe’s Commitment

Quentin Verspieren, ESA’s space safety program coordinator, emphasized the charter’s importance. He stated, “The Zero Debris Charter signals Europe’s unwavering commitment to be a global leader on space debris mitigation and remediation.” Moreover, he highlighted the collective action of space actors worldwide as crucial for the sustainability of future space activities.

Industry Participation

ESA plans a follow-up signing ceremony during the ILA Berlin air show in early June. Furthermore, additional companies are expected to join the charter. Josef Aschbacher, ESA director general, mentioned that there are about 100 expressions of interest from companies. He hinted at significant industry participation but did not disclose specific names.

The Role of the European Union

The charter signing coincides with the European Union’s consideration of its first space law, which may include space sustainability provisions. Anna Christmann, German federal aerospace coordinator and ESA ministerial council chair, reassured that both ESA’s charter and the forthcoming EU space law aim for the same goal. Therefore, she sees the charter as complementary to potential EU regulations.


Josef Aschbacher highlighted the complementary roles of the European Commission and ESA. The commission focuses on regulation, while ESA advances technology and raises awareness. As a result, he has instructed ESA project managers to ensure new missions comply with the charter’s provisions, underscoring ESA’s commitment to the initiative.

Aschbacher could not comment on the details of the proposed EU space law, as it had not yet been published. However, he acknowledged that ESA member states are keen for the agency’s help in interpreting the law to understand its impact on national space activities.

International and Industry support

The Zero Debris Charter represents a pivotal move toward sustainable space operations. With significant international and industry support, ESA’s leadership in mitigating space debris will be crucial in ensuring the long-term viability of space exploration and operations.

Join the Movement

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can contribute to space sustainability, explore the latest updates and initiatives at RocketBreaks. Together, we can help ensure a cleaner, safer space environment for future generations. Visit RocketBreaks today to discover more.



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