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February 26, 2024

Space - the final frontier for sustainability?

With the US landing back on the moon for the first time in 50 years, Space exploration is back in a big way. But with sustainability increasingly driving business conversations, can space travel ever be sustainable? 

Imagine if Star Trek was pitched in Hollywood today… 

Space, the final frontier, to sustainably go where no human has gone before. 

The pitch is a sure-fire winner - space travel is up, with a record 223 attempted launches last year, while sustainability is one of the biggest global challenges. 

The only problem with that elevator pitch is there’s all too much evidence that humans have been to space previously. NASA estimates there are ‘25,000 objects larger than 10 cm’ currently orbiting the earth, while there are more than 100 million pieces of debris larger than 1mm orbiting the earth. 

Sustainability might be the hot topic on Earth, but in space, it seems no one can hear you scream about the environment. 

And yet, there might be a glimmer of hope in 2024 and beyond for the space industry. 

Getting into space is inherently unsustainable - you need a huge amount of rocket fuel, and traditionally, space-faring nations have used single-use launch vehicles. 

Yet part of the current boom in space exploration is thanks to reusable parts and increasing standardisation. Take our client, AMS Composite Cylinders, for example - their gas cylinders are accredited for use across a wide range of countries and certifications and are widely used across the industry. By using standardised and reusable components, rockets can dial down the prices without sacrificing any of their thrust. 

The good news doesn’t end there. There are 45% more satellites than in 2022, and many are being used for sustainable purposes. Take the incoming EU Deforestation Regulation, for instance. This legislation means that all commodities made from cocoa, coffee, soy, wood, rubber, cattle and palm oil must demonstrate that no land has been cleared to grow them. . To do that, companies will need to use grid coordinates and satellite imagery to prove that their land hasn’t been illegally cleared. Satellites are also crucial when it comes to monitoring environmental changes, tracking ice melt in polar regions, ocean health and air quality.

Space is slowly becoming more sustainable. The larger concern is perhaps the lack of regulation and cohesion between public and private launches. 

The space market is worth nearly $500 billion, while even the Space Situational Awareness market - i.e. tracking objects in space and predicting their threats to other spacecraft (and humans!) - is worth a staggering $ 1.5 billion. And yet, if you do litter the earth or fail to ‘deorbit’ your satellite properly, you’ll be hit with a non-legally binding fine from Europe or a paltry $150,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission in America. 

The result is that while getting to space is increasingly sustainable, it’s increasingly unsustainable once you get there thanks to 100 million pieces of debris whizzing around at 15,000 mph. 

While we don’t have any answers to that sustainability problem, as with AMS Composite Cylinders, we can offer ‘out of this world’ marketing - whether that’s on the final frontier, or back down here on Earth. 

Get in Touch

One Nine Nine is about results – creative work and marketing support that does what you need it to. We work with global and local companies, creating and delivering effective digital, marketing and creative sustainability strategies to support your ongoing commercial and critical success. 

To find out how we can impact your marketing, please get in touch with our team at 01138444111 or email us at

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