my World of Work Week Experience by Alice Rinalducci in MP5c

In MYP5 one of the most anticipated activities is the World of Work Week. This is the chance for students to experience working in a real work environment; whether this be a company, a shop, a school, or an organisation. It helps you understand what it means to work – especially for a job you’re interested in. I spent several months reflecting on where I wanted to go; which passion should I zoom into and discover? As the World of Work Week approached, I still had no work placement decided. Grudgingly, I went to my father for help. Low and behold, within a couple of weeks I had a placement at the European Space Agency (ESA, ESTEC), and although maths and physics are not my forte, I was brought to the Clean Space office and found my place rather quickly…

Although no one talks about it, space missions are some of the most polluting human activities there are. Both by the enormous CO2 emissions which greatly contribute to global warming, and by the constantly increasing debris left in Space. The philosophy appears to be ‘if it’s polluting Space, it’s not really a problem to us here on Earth!’. But there are roughly 12,500 satellites in Low Earth Orbit – used for things like getting GPS and weather forecasting – and over 4,000 no longer in use junk. Chances of collisions are high, and there already are several cases of people finding 600kg worth of space debris in their backyard. This is extremely dangerous for people and threatening to Space missions now and risking that in the future we won’t have ‘space left’ to send more stuff into space.

At Clean Space, the goals are to enforce regulations for these things, avoid and clean up debris, and use the most sustainable methods to build, test, and maintain rockets using Life Cycle Analysis. It is often easy to say, “just be better,” “just do better”, “be more sustainable.” But what does that even mean? With the Clean Space team, I learnt that this is no easy feat. Just like many things nowadays, we are reliant on Space activity for all sorts of things, but at the rate at which we are working, it cannot be sustained. The concepts of keeping Space clean are still new and being developed, but even the smallest steps are of great importance. We only have one Earth, and protecting it is one of the most valuable things we can do.

Whether it is sustainability or medicine or sports that you’re interested in, the World of Work Week is the perfect opportunity to become aware of the impact you want to have on the world. I found that this week opened my eyes to the types of careers I could have and the things that are important to me. I was able to involve myself with the subjects in the direction I preferred – writing – and learnt so much about sustainability in the Space sector and beyond. I conclude this piece with gratitude for this experience, and the hope that others begin holding themselves, their peers, businesses, and governments accountable for making positive impact for the environment.