23.04.24 - The White Paper “Recommendations for the development of space systems life cycle assessment methodology for space transportation systems” has been published.

As the EU parliament is about to issue a new Space Law that tackles space sustainability and new European regulations will come applicable in the next year on ESG reporting, it is key to provide to the industry recognized standards on how to assess their impacts on the Earth and space environments.

The University of Stuttgart has published a first white paper on the current state of play and proposed solutions to improve scientific knowledge of the environmental impacts of Space Transportation Systems (STS). The document “Recommendations for the development of space systems life cycle assessment methodology for space transportation systems'' has been written to give feedback to ESA on its guidelines for life cycle assessments applied to space systems. ESA first published it in 2016 and updated it in 2024. Mathieu Udriot - Engineer at eSpace - contributed to its writing and Emmanuelle David – eSpace Executive Director – to its proofreading.

The white paper is the outcome of a series of workshops. The aim of this yearly workshop is to bring together experts in the fields of environmental impacts, space transportation systems, propulsion, climate modelling and policy, in order to summarise and extend the state of knowledge on the subject. The workshop has already identified current gaps in knowledge and methodology, and supported projects to fill them to improve the assessment of existing and future space systems. This gathering of experts is ideal for creating a strong network with different players from academia, industry and institutions.

eSpace has been taking part in this workshop since its first edition in 2022 and contributed to its first outcomes, the white paper and the preparation of a doctoral network at European level to fill gaps in the high-altitude impacts of launch and re-entry emissions. eSpace is coordinating EPFL's contribution to the proposal.

Related projects at eSpace:
The team started working on the REACT project (gREen spACe logistics Tool), which is the continuation of the Green Space Logistics project (GSL, 2022-2023).
With a broader scope and based on the identified challenges in the previous project, this new activity is still led by eSpace, with a larger consortium now also including the University of Stuttgart and ISAE SUPAERO in Toulouse, in addition to the GSL partners Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and Ateleris GmbH. Over the span of two years, the goal is to iterate on the development of the Assessment and Comparison Tool (ACT), improve its proof of concept to answer potential users’ needs, and to enable its adoption in the design process of European space industries. This tool will enable the modelling and comparisons of space transportation systems, including in-space transportation vehicles, and shall be usable in the early design phase for actors to make decisions on (eco)design choices. Indeed, the early design is lacking the precision in data which is necessary for robust life cycle assessment. The tool shall then enable the use of heritage data and simplify the LCA process while providing accurate results that enable the identification of environmental hotspots and the comparison of similar systems. Results of the analysis will support decision-making and allow the European space sector to reduce its environmental impact, in space and on Earth.

Comments are closed.