ESA’s Clean Space Industry Days (2021 CSID) have become the central forum for European industry working on designing and building sustainable missions.
The 2021 edition will be entirely online.
This year, the CSID will cover the following topics:
Ecodesign for space: embedding environmental sustainability within space mission design
Managing the end of life: Developing technologies to prevent the creation of future debris, including Design for removal
- Debris removal and servicing: Enabling the first active debris-removal mission as the cornerstone for a vital new European business providing in-orbit servicing such as repairing, refuelling or even recycling. This encompasses also Close-proximity operations and On-orbit manufacturing, assembly and recycling (OMAR)
1. Ecodesign for Space
The Clean Space initiative started almost 10 years ago when an ESA team was asked to investigate the environmental impact of a launcher. This led to the adaptation of existing environmental LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) tools to space activities and the development of the Space System Life Cycle Assessment guidelines. Applying LCA to a space mission is still today far more challenging than in many other industrial sectors.
Once you have the results of your LCA study and have identified the most polluting elements of your activity, you must carry on with reducing its environmental impacts. This topic is addressed by the ‘EcoDesign for space missions’ branch of Clean Space. EcoDesign for space missions means to design missions taking into account their environmental impact and fostering the use of green materials and manufacturing processes – and that will be compliant with European environmental legislation such as REACH.
It is no surprise that both environmental LCA and eco-design for space missions are of high interest to European space actors. We indeed live in a region where tackling environmental issues is considered a priority.
2. Managing the end of life
ESA intends to minimise the production of space debris and support European space industry to comply with existing and future space debris mitigation rules, guidelines, policies and laws.
Design for Demise will be a prominent topic during this year’s CSID. A lot is happening in Europe regarding the development of new technologies that will demise during re-entry. These investigations and developments will be discussed during sessions focusing on several technologies.
Other topics will be covered such as post-mission disposal, passivation and managing the end-of-life of small satellites and cubesats.
Satellites are also being prepared to be removed in the future. You will get an update on technology developments designed for satellites that will be launched in future that will simplify the rendezvous and capture process in the event a satellite is unable to perform its disposal / end-of-life manoeuvres. Therefore, a specific session on Design for Removal will cover:
- rendezvous support
- standardised capture interfaces
- detumbling techniques for non-operational satellites
- Design for Removal for Earth Observation satellites
- Design for Removal for megaconstellations
3. Debris removal and servicing
In 2019, ESA challenged European space industry to come up with a service to remove one or more ESA object(s) whilst also demonstrating in-orbit functionalities required for future on-orbit services that industry foresees based on market needs. By acting as pioneers in the first debris-removal service, European industry will gain first-mover advantage on the global stage and kick-start a new market for on-orbit servicing.
Such a mission is technically demanding, and as such ESA has been carrying out a number of studies to develop and mature the necessary technologies both for debris removal and in-orbit servicing. The Clean Space Industrial Days will be an opportunity to gain up-to-date information on the latest technology developments in the areas of:
- rendezvous (sensors and controllers)
- capture (strategies and technologies)
The event will also open the floor to system-level presentations about in-orbit servicing missions.
Activities carried out to develop technologies for approaching, grasping and manipulating spacecraft on orbit helped identified knowledge gaps of major importance for rendezvous and capture.
These gaps mean that there is a particular lack of technical requirements and verification methods for ensuring that rendezvous and proximity operations are conducted in a sustainable manner.
A workshop on ‘Close Proximity Operations’ aims at triggering discussions with European space actors to define requirements and guidelines to ensure safe rendezvous and capture operations.
For decades we assumed that in-orbit assembly, manufacturing and recycling was a future, scifi concept. Today, ESA decided to take these subjects seriously. Indeed, they could change the way space systems will be designed and operated in the future.
Thus, our last session will cover system aspects and technology developments needed for future services (in Earth orbit) such as manufacturing, refurbishing, assembling, recycling and refuelling. This is going to be addressed in the sessions covering On-orbit manufacturing, assembly and recycle (OMAR)