World Economic Forum launches 'Space Sustainability Rating'
(20 Jun 2021) A new 'Space Sustainability Rating' is currently in development, scoring space operators on the sustainability of their missions, increasing the transparency of their contributions to protecting the space environment and encouraging and recognising responsible behaviour, according to ESA.
The global initiative, launched by the World Economic Forum (WEF), has been developed over the past two years by the Forum, ESA and a joint team led by the Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, with collaboration from BryceTech and the University of Texas at Austin.
For the crucial next step, the Space Center (eSpace) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has been selected to lead and operate the Space Sustainability Rating in preparation for its roll out.
The SSR rating system will score the sustainability of spaceflight operators based on factors ranging from data sharing, choice of orbit, measures taken to avoid collisions and plans to de-orbit satellites at end of mission to how easily their satellites can be detected and identified from the ground. There will be 'bonus marks' for adding optional elements, such as grappling fixtures, which could be used for the possible future active removal of debris.
One particularly important component of the SSR is the new methodology for quantifying the space debris risk associated with a mission. It takes into account the additional burden the new mission poses to the operations of existing ones and its potential impact on the long-term evolution of the space debris environment.
Once the rating system has entered operation, ESA will support EPFL in evaluating this potential impact for new space missions. The Agency will also take a seat on the Space Sustainability Rating Advisory Board, as well as continuing to assist in many other ways.
Several companies, including Airbus, Astroscale, AXA XL, elseco, Lockheed Martin, Planet, SpaceX and Voyager Space Holdings, have actively supported the SSR concept and expressed interest in participating once it is publicly launched.
Reference: ESA PR