17.06.21 – The World Economic Forum announces that the EPFL Space Center (eSpace) has been chosen to lead the Sustainable Space Rating (SSR). The SSR has been developed to help reduce space debris and help ensure the rapidly increasing space missions are managed safely and sustainably. The rating will score space missions based on markers such as evidenced-based debris mitigation and alignment with international guidelines. First sustainability certifications will be issued to mission operators in early 2022.

Developed in the last two years by a consortium including the World Economic Forum, the European Space Agency and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in collaboration with BryceTech and the University of Texas at Austin, the SSR aims to push forward sustainability in the space sector and compliance with the international norms and guidelines.

The score will be based on factors ranging from data sharing, choice of orbit, measures taken to avoid collisions, plans to de-orbit satellites on completion of missions, and even how well they can be detected and identified from the ground.

By voluntarily taking part in the new SSR system, spacecraft operators, launch service providers and satellite manufacturers will be able to secure a “certified”, “silver”, “gold” or “platinum” rating that they can share externally to show their mission’s level of sustainability.

This will increase transparency, without disclosing any mission-sensitive or proprietary information. The goal is to incentivize good behaviour by all space actors in addressing the problem of space debris. A favourable score for a particular operator might, for example, result in lower insurance costs or improved funding conditions from financial backers.

eSpace continues developing its space sustainability expertise 

After a robust selection process involving about 20 stakeholders, eSpace has been selected to lead and operate the SSR going forward, in preparation for the roll-out of the transparent system for scoring the space sustainability efforts of different space actors.

“Space sustainability is in eSpace’s DNA, as one of our research projects led to the creation of ClearSpace – a pioneer spin-off selected by ESA for the first debris removal mission. Hosting the SSR is a strategic move for our center. With our experience and the partners that will support SSR at EPFL, Switzerland and international levels, we intend to initiate in 2022 what could be a game changer in the way space missions are carried out” said Jean-Paul Kneib, Professor of Astrophysics and Director of eSpace.

eSpace is currently working on the rating implementation in order to deliver the first SSR certificate in early 2022.

Related links:
World Economic Forum – Space Sustainability Rating
World Economic Forum – Press release
European Space Agency press release
MIT Media Lab – The Space Sustainability Rating
eSpace SSR webpage

Original article by Vincent Derouand

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