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Paris, 1 December 2004


In October, CNES President Yannick d’Escatha signed the European Code of Conduct on space debris.

Today, it is estimated that 10,000 debris objects larger than 10 centimetres, 200,000 between 1 and 10 centimetres, and several million sub-centimetre objects are orbiting Earth. The growing risks these debris pose to space missions need to be mitigated.

To this end, a group of space agency experts from ASI (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana), BNSC (British National Space Centre), CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales) DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) and ESA (European Space Agency) have drawn up a Code of Conduct for space debris mitigation.

Based on guidelines proposed by CNES in 1999, the code represents a consensus between these five space agencies on what needs to be done to mitigate the proliferation of space debris. It details and complements the guidelines already being discussed at international level by the Inter Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) and the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS).

The code indicates measures to be taken during a spacecraft’s operational mission and at the end of its life. The main requirements are for objects not to remain in low-Earth orbit for more than 25 years after completing their mission, and to move geostationary satellites to a higher graveyard orbit.

CNES President Yannick d’Escatha recently signed this Code of Conduct, which will now apply to all new CNES projects. France’s space agency is the first to give the code its official seal of approval.

The de-orbiting of SPOT 1 in 2003 and end-of-life manoeuvres on Helios 1B this year illustrate how the code’s guidelines will now be applied, signalling CNES’ clear commitment to mitigate production of debris in Earth orbit.


Press Contact:

Sandra LALY
Phone: +33 (0)1 44 76 77 32