695th Lord Mayor’s Space Protection Initiative

Aim: To create a market for Space Debris Removal Insurance Bonds

On 5 October 2023 “The 695th Lord Mayor’s Space Protection Initiative” was launched at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2023) of the International Astronautical Foundation as a combined technology and financial services initiative to use space debris performance bonds and other financial instruments to keep space ‘clutter free’ in aid of meeting 40% of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The publication below discusses a ‘space’ P&I Mutual and space insurance-linked securities, with a near-term focus on Space Debris Removal Bonds (SDRBs) or Space Debris Removal Insurance Bonds (SPADRIBs):

In-Orbit Servicing & Insurance Markets: A Symbiotic Approach Professor Michael Mainelli, Charles Vermont, Pat Mathewson, Morgane Lecas, David Eagleson, Hugh SelkaInternational Astronautical Congress (IAC 2023), International Astronautical Foundation (October 2023).

Financially, SPADRIBs are surety bonds, as already apply in decommissioning oil rigs, mines, etc.  There has been some light modelling on frequency risk, multiple launches, retrieval and removal costs, etc.  The current market capacity is probably sufficient if the concept takes off.  We are still a bit unclear on retrieval and removal costs, but this will help clear it up – https://spacenews.com/debris-removal-contenders-hit-design-milestone-for-double-satellite-mission/.

The UK, in accordance with the National Space Strategy, is ramping up its efforts in space sustainability. This includes two Active Debris Removal Phase B mission studies which were awarded to Astroscale and ClearSpace in September 2022 (totalling £4 million). These will help the UK Space Agency decide which mission concept to take forward to a fully-fledged design and launch phase, culminating in 2026 with a demonstration of the nation’s capability to rendezvous, dock with, and deorbit two defunct UK satellites. 

A broad coalition of organisations are involved ranging from people in insurance and reinsurance, to policy makers and technologists. Insurance industry support for exploring the concept is strong, including a letter from the industry offering ‘an invitation to treat’ for up to US$500m per operator so long as “a spacecraft company clearly demonstrates it can de-orbit third party space debris” and “the agencies regulating space launch make Spadribs mandatory”.

We held a coffee colloquy on space debris at Mansion House on 5 December.

We held a discussion on SPADRIBs at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 17 January.

We are hosting a Mansion House dinner on 15 March on SPADRIBs.

We have a Knowledge Miles lecture on 27 June with the European Space Agency:

27 June 2024Waste Of Space: The Problem With Space Debris And The Challenges And Opportunities Associated With Solving itEuropean Space AgencyGraham TurnockEuropean Space Agency

What’s our target?  We’d like to get the G7/G20 to make purchasing such SPADRIBs or similar a condition of launch.  Our objective is to get the G7/G20 to announce that “SPADRIBs will be a condition of launch from 202X”.

If you are interested in getting deeply involved, the Chairman of the 695th Lord Mayor’s Space Protection Initiative is Charles Vermont.

ANNEX – some background on the space debris problem

Z/Yen (on which I am on sabbatical for a year as Chairman) has produced a pro bono report on the issue:

The Global Green Finance Index 12 – Supplement “Space Debris – The Tragedy Of The Commons” Mike Wardle, Professor Michael Mainelli, Simon Mills2023Long Finance & Financial Centre Futures (October 2023), 75 pages.

Other sources:

FS Club webinars:

27 July 2023,
09:00 – 09:45
More Space, Less Waste: Laying The Sustainable Foundation Of The Orbital EconomyNobu OkadaAstroscale Holdings IncWebinar
12 May 2021,
09:30 – 13:00
UK Space Agency Futures Forum: Greening Outer SpaceTaskeen Ali, Professor Rafael Ramirez, Dr Lucas Kello, Professor Mark Burgman, Joanne Wheeler MBE, Dr Jason MaroothynadenUK Space Agency, Oxford University, Imperial College London, Alden Legal, HE Space OperationsWebinar
22 February 2021,
08:30 – 09:30
Space: The Final Frontier Provides An Exciting Future For Our Global Community – BizTech Huìhuà ChatNick Flitterman, Du ChongzhuangPortland Advisers, China Aviation Industrial BaseWebinar – China & UK