Space Sustainability Workshop Concludes

January 24, 2020

This week the Government of Bermuda and the Secure World Foundation hosted the Bermuda Space Sustainability Workshop 2020.

The workshop, held at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute [BUEI] on Wednesday and Thursday, brought together over 30 experts from Government, industry, research organizations and academia to discuss the importance of space sustainability for Bermuda and the world.

The Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban opened the workshop with a presentation on Bermuda’s historical ties to the space industry and the Government’s current perspective on space sustainability.

Bermuda Space Sustainability Workshop Jan 2020

Minister Roban said during his presentation, “We recognize the space industry holds considerable economic potential: today, it is valued at over $350 billion dollars, and experts predict it will become a trillion dollar industry by 2040. We want to tap into this potential by attracting space businesses to our shores to create high-value jobs and grow our economy.

“But without a sustainable space environment, the commercial future of space is not guaranteed. Space debris poses risks to companies sending people and assets into space, and if we do not collectively work to minimize the amount of debris in orbit, eventually the costs of going to space will outweigh the benefits.

“Bermuda has four orbital slots that were allocated by the International Telecommunication Union. BermudaSat-1, our first satellite network, operates from an orbital location of 96.2 degrees West Longitude. Orbital debris could prevent us from maintaining a satellite in that slot, adversely impacting our ability to benefit from Bermuda’s orbital resources. One of the key questions the Government of Bermuda faces is how can we promote space sustainability from a policy perspective? This will require close consultation with industry stakeholders.

“Our goals with this workshop are twofold: to signal to the international community that Bermuda is committed to sustainable space operations as we develop our domestic space economy, and to inform a robust discussion on space sustainability among relevant stakeholders in Bermuda.

“We have decided to hold a workshop with these two goals because, in short, the sustainability of space matters for Bermuda, particularly from a commercial perspective. Economic growth and the creation of more jobs for Bermudians is a core concern of the current Government. Our work in the space and satellite area is one component of our overall strategy to diversify our economy and prepare Bermuda for the modern world.”

The Minister’s comments were followed by a series of presentations by the experts in attendance on trends in the space domain, including changes to the space environment, space governance, globalization and commercialization and space security.

Following that, the participants held multiple panel discussions on various policy aspects of space sustainability, key trends that are driving the increasingly commercial nature of the space domain, and how operators are acting to encourage responsible operations, principles and best practices in support of business and space sustainability objectives.

On the second day, participants engaged in a panel discussion on the various approaches which industry, government and academia can work together to achieve space sustainability outcomes.

The workshop concluded by dividing the participants into two breakout groups to brainstorm ways in which Bermuda can include space sustainability in its initiatives to develop the space sector, drawing on the discussions over the previous day and a half.

Minister Roban said, “At the end of the workshop, participants agreed that Bermuda can position itself as a leader in the international satellite industry by integrating the concept of space sustainability into the development of Bermuda’s satellite regime, building on and complementing Bermuda’s broader sustainability efforts and the larger sustainability narrative.

“The participants also agreed on the need to foster collaboration between government, the local insurance industry, and the education community, and discussed the merits of establishing a multi-stakeholder centre of excellence in global satellite industry matters in Bermuda to foster such collaboration and generate meaningful outcomes.

“Additionally, STEM-related educational initiatives such as space camps and satellite projects could also be pivotal in the creation of a cultural focus on the importance of the space and satellite industry.

The Government noted, “The public may recall that the Government of Bermuda established a Space and Satellite Policy Advisory Panel in 2018 to provide advice on the development of the space and satellite industries in Bermuda and to serve as a vehicle for guiding Bermuda’s advocacy efforts on behalf of the satellite industry in international policy matters.”

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