Skip to Content

Inventing Outer Space: Co-creating ethical solutions with civil society

Lucy Mason
Apr 25, 2024

The development of the future space ecosystem and ‘NewSpace’ industries are a huge opportunity to build the kind of space organizations we want to be part of in future. To fully benefit from space, we need to build capabilities which are sustainable, ethical and minimize impact on the fragile space environment, with organizations which are diverse, collaborative and positive places to work. There is a huge diversification of the space sector underway with a thriving ecosystem of start-ups as well as large multinational businesses pivoting into space industries. This is the moment to invent – rather than reimagine later on – and embed new ways of organizing ourselves and space in ways which work for everyone. As our Chief Innovation Officer, Pascal Brier says, “This is not just a race to the stars; it’s a quest for practical, more sustainable solutions that will shape the future of humanity both on and off our planet”.

What does it mean in practice to co-create ethical solutions putting people at their heart?

Firstly, sustainability is going to be vital for being able to use space in the ways we want to in future. There is a major risk from increasing amounts of debris and orbital overcrowding as more and more satellites are put into Low Earth Orbit; a rush to commercialize and profit from ‘first mover advantage’ in space could accidentally tip us into a Kessler event where space becomes completely unusable. Space is a global common and needs careful management to preserve the environment for future generations to benefit in the way that we have. Traditionally, civil society and Third Sector organisations have played a major role on Earth to influence private and public sector decision-making from a wider social and ethical perspective, and we will need similar lobbying and momentum to co-create the future of space – for example protecting the Moon from overexploitation and mining.

Secondly, civil society could play an important role in the emerging space economy. Investment in space is currently either through Governments – primarily investing in military capabilities and wider R&D – and commercial entities. There is a missing piece for community co-investment, where the public can get involved as shareholders. Ethical public/private investment models such as through not-for-profit organisations and charities could help to cross the scale-up gap taking innovation from idea through to fully scaled and deployable capabilities, especially in areas where the business model is less clear (such as for debris removal capabilities). Public investment and ownership could be a welcome counterbalancing force to commercial and military interests and can focus on ethical and sustainable uses of space in ways which benefit everyone globally.

Finally, we will need diversity of thought, experience and backgrounds, and inclusive organizations, to ensure that future space works for all; that technologies and capabilities are created with regards to everyone’s interests and perspectives; and to create equality of opportunity for people to have successful careers in the space sector. Diversity (including neurodiversity) should be the foundation of building new space organisations and communities, not an afterthought. Space cannot be solely the preserve of white degree-educated men. The benefits of diversity are clear: more effective solutions, increased profits, increased human happiness. The approach must be holistic and aimed at all ages and stages – from young people through skills development through career pathways. We need to attract and retain a much more diverse range of people into careers in the space sector and explicitly seek out and value alternative inputs and voices, including, crucially, the Global South. We could offer market incentives to more diverse organizations, encouraging them to shape themselves around the needs of a diverse workforce and to put in place measures to check groupthink, bias and discrimination. The space sector is exciting because we are creating entire new organizations, constructs and cultures. Let’s not miss the opportunity to build them with fairness, opportunity, and humanity at their very heart.

Meet our authors


Lucy Mason

Director for Innovation, Capgemini Invent UK
Prof Lucy Mason FRSA is a Director at Capgemini Invent leading on emerging technologies and innovation, especially in the defence, space and security sectors. She is the founder and former Head of the Government’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) which finds and funds innovation to create novel defence and security capabilities. Her interests include the threats and opportunities posed by AI and machine learning, the internet of things, quantum technologies, futures thinking, and the implications of technologies for people and society. Lucy is a Visiting Professor at Cranfield University, Chair of the Governance Board for the Security of Digital Technology at the Periphery (SDTaP) programme (formerly PETRAS), and Chair of the SPRITE+ Advisory Board. She is a member of the Advisory Boards for the Common Mission Project and CREST Research. Lucy was a former civil servant between 2009 – 2019 and has a doctorate in archaeological science.
Mark Chang

Mark Chang

CEng, FRAS, MIoP, MINCOSE, PhD (Astronomy Instrumentation)
Mark Chang is a Director at Capgemini Invent, both leading the UK Space Sector business and shaping the company’s Quantum Technologies capability. He has led or been part of many international satellite missions teams from the UK and the USA, covering different stages from design, build, test to deployment, operations and end-of-life activity. Notable projects he has been part of include the NASA/ESA James Webb Space Telescope, ESA’s Sentinel 5 Precursor and EarthCARE missions. Motivated to bring innovative capabilities into service to transform the way we live, Mark is also an advocate for neurodiversity awareness and inclusion activities, with the intent of bringing together the best of our society.