World Space Week 2022 centers space sustainability for the future

satellite in orbit around earth
Thousands of satellites now fly above Earth, prompting a discussion about sustainability in this year's World Space Week. (Image credit: L3Harris)

Humanity's role in space exploration is once again being celebrated.

The 2022 edition of World Space Week starts this week on Tuesday (Oct. 4), with events highlighting the theme "Space and Sustainability."

The week is timed with the 65th anniversary of the Sputnik launch from the Soviet Union, which became the first human-made object in orbit on Oct. 4, 1957. Since then, thousands of satellites (and a lot of space debris) are prompting discussions about the effects on astronomy, launches and other space activities.

"WSW will celebrate two branches of the topic to be covered: achieving sustainability in space, and achieving sustainability from space," officials with the event wrote, saying their focus is "the orbital area surrounding Earth itself [as] a finite resource."

Related: Sputnik 1! 7 fun facts about humanity's first satellite

This theme appears to be a response to the growing threat of megaconstellations, like SpaceX's Starlink internet project, as well as space collision events like a Russian anti-satellite test that happened almost exactly a year ago in November 2021.

Read more about key World Space Week events below, and how you can organize your own event.

Holding an event

All World Space Week events are listed on this global calendar (opens in new tab). (As of this time, NASA and European Space Agency events are not yet listed.) 

Having your event listed there requires following four main steps: holding it between Oct. 4 and 10, choosing an activity (whose audience can range from preschool to senior citizens), planning the event with "World Space Week" branding, and then spreading the word.

"We encourage you to send a press release to your local newspaper or TV/radio station, and announce it on social media, using the World Space Week hashtag," the organizers stated (opens in new tab). This year's hashtags are #WSW2022, #worldspaceweek, #worldspaceweek2022 and #spaceandsustainabilitywsw.

More details about registering your event and tips for holding it are available at this World Space Week webpage (opens in new tab). You can also tag your pictures on Flickr to join a World Space Week album (opens in new tab).

Examples of events (opens in new tab) include:

  • Computers running space software or for browsing space web sites
  • Concert of space-related music
  • Distribute space literature
  • Exhibit of space-related art, books or magazines, hardware, maps, moon rocks or meteorites, photographs, stamps, space memorabilia or student projects
  • Films about space
  • Libraries feature space books
  • Model rocket launch by students and adults
  • School activities to excite children about math and science
  • Science fiction festival

World Space Week highlights

World Space Week's official listing of event highlights (opens in new tab) include:

  • U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris announced a new coalition of space companies (opens in new tab) that will focus on increasing the space industry's capacity to meet the rising demand for the skilled technical workforce.
  • Chris Boshuizen, One Giant Leap Australia Foundation, Moonshot and RMIT Space Industry Hub have announced "Mission: Sustainability" (opens in new tab), a challenge for Australian students to design a sustainable space station of the future.
  • Prestwick Spaceport in the United Kingdom will release a short film to encourage young people to consider a career in Scotland's (opens in new tab) end-to-end space sector. The film will be made available to schools in collaboration with Skypath — a careers initiative from South Ayrshire Council’s Economy and Regeneration service.
  • One Giant Leap Australia Foundation and Space Teams will organize "Mission OZ!" (opens in new tab), a six-day virtual space mission for students ages 12 and up.

The Space Foundation

The Space Foundation's list of World Space Week events (opens in new tab) includes:

  • Oct. 4: Boeing Art Showcase — Art In The Stars (opens in new tab)
  • Oct. 4: Reading of Earth: My first 4.54 Billion Years (opens in new tab): Small Steps, Giant Leap engages little space explorers with interactive and creative storytelling.
  • Oct. 5: Robots and Coding (opens in new tab): Learn how robots work and how scientists use them in space exploration.
  • Oct. 6: Space Matters (opens in new tab): Space Foundation's second season of "Space Matters" convenes well-known policy influencers for monthly high level space policy conversations on emerging topics and trends within the global space economy.
  • Oct. 7: Live Mission Briefing (opens in new tab): This engaging classroom event will enable students from all backgrounds across the country to explore fifty different STEAM careers associated with establishing a moon colony.
  • Oct. 8: Electricity & Circuits (opens in new tab): This month's Tesla's Toolbox workshop dives into electricity and circuits.
  • Oct. 15: #Space4Fun (opens in new tab): 10th Anniversary Family Day: Space Foundation Discovery Center is turning 10 years old.

White House initiatives

Newly announced White House funding and initiatives (opens in new tab) for 2022's World Space Week include:

  • Military Space Careers Website: The Department of Defense will launch a space STEM careers page (opens in new tab) to showcase career paths and increase awareness about military space career opportunities.
  • "Noggin's Space Place" Series: Noggin (opens in new tab)'s Space Place, a collection of animated and live action videos and resources, will release content including children’s questions for astronauts in the International Space Station, a special episode of "Noggin Knows," and free educator guides to help teachers use the learning media.
  • Mission Unstoppable to Feature Women in Space Jobs: CBS's weekly television show, Mission Unstoppable (opens in new tab), will share stories of women from diverse backgrounds who contribute to the exploration, discovery, and application of space-related knowledge, including systems engineers, climate scientists, satellite maintenance technicians, astronomers and solar physicists.
  • New Educator Resource Hub for Space STEM Materials: 100Kin10, (opens in new tab) a national network of academic institutions, nonprofits, foundations, companies and government agencies, will launch a new publicly available resource with free space-inspired science curricular materials and learning resources for PreK-12 teachers and students.
  • Special Collection of Space STEM Educator Resources: Discovery Education (opens in new tab) will curate a special "Space Week" collection of space STEM resources on its digital learning platform. These include space-focused STEM career videos, and instructional resources for educators from content partners, including NASA, National Science Foundation and Boeing.
  • Data Science for Space and Sustainability Event: Hines Family Foundation (opens in new tab)in partnerships with the Atlanta University Consortium Data Science Initiative, and the NASA Georgia Space Grant Consortium at Georgia Tech, will host "From STEM To Esteem: Space-motived Tools and Strategies to Enable the 21st Century Underrepresented Workforce." The event in Atlanta aims to increase the participation of Black and Historically Black College and University data scientists in the space and sustainability industries.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace