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The University of Manchester backs global efforts to make space more sustainable

Leading researchers from across The University of Manchester (UoM) have given their support to a global initiative endorsed by His Majesty King Charles III promoting the sustainable use of space.

Signing on behalf of The University of Manchester, Dr Peter Roberts, Reader in Spacecraft Engineering, is one of more than 100 signatories of the Memorandum of Principles for Space Sustainability, a field to which UoM academics contribute research and recommendations.

The principles echo the Astra Carta, a framework unveiled by the King at Buckingham Palace last month, which seeks to create and accelerate sustainable practices across the global space industry.

Both initiatives tie in closely with specialist research at UoM including On Space, a collection of thought leadership and analysis pieces highlighting the urgent need for greater sustainability in space.

The publication, produced by the University’s policy engagement unit Policy@Manchester, includes a powerful article by Dr Roberts on Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) satellite technology which reduces collision risk and radiation damage, as well as facilitating end-of-life deorbit.

Dr Roberts said: “I warmly welcome the opportunity to sign the Memorandum, recognising the contribution from experts at The University of Manchester.

“The work we do on developing technologies to enable satellite operations in very low Earth orbits supports sustainability in space as satellites rapidly decay from orbit at end of life, completely avoiding the production of space debris – a key component of the Memorandum of Principles for Space Sustainability.

“Amongst other areas of ongoing activity, we have researchers examining the dark and quiet skies movement which is working incredibly hard to minimise radio noise that would otherwise create problems for ground-based radio astronomy, aspects of in-orbit servicing and manufacturing, another critical aspect of minimising the impact of space activities.

“The University of Manchester is proud to be actively involved in the global efforts to make space more sustainable.  We look forward to continuing our work with other institutions and industrial partners around the world to make space more sustainable for future generations.”

On Space can be read and downloaded free of charge via the Policy@Manchester website.

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Picture On Space, a collection of articles from University of Manchester academics on the need for greater sustainability in space   About Dr Peter Roberts Dr Peter Roberts is a specialist in space technology development focussing on orbital aerodynamic technologies.  His activities cover the full life cycle of technology development from concept through to in-orbit operations. Technology areas developed include:
  • aerodynamic materials for drag reduction enabling commercially sustainable missions in very low Earth orbits (VLEO)
  • aerodynamic modelling for VLEO satellite conceptual design optimisation
  • aerodynamic attitude control
  • end-of-life drag sails
His research has resulted in several spaceflight activities including the Icarus drag sail on TechDemoSat, and the demonstration of aerodynamic materials on the Satellite for Orbital Aerodynamics Research (SOAR), which was launched and operated by the University of Manchester in 2021-22.   About Policy@Manchester As the University’s policy engagement unit, Policy@Manchester connects researchers with policymakers and influencers, nurtures long-term policy engagement relationships, and seeks to enhance stakeholder understanding of pressing policy challenges.  More information at:

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