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πŸš€ A sustainability rating of spacecraft targets space debris

πŸš€ A sustainability rating of spacecraft targets space debris

A new sustainable grading of spacecraft will help customers choose launches that do not contribute to the daunting amount of space debris in orbit.

Kent Olofsson
Kent Olofsson

There are plenty of different certifications that companies and organizations can use to show that their products are sustainable. And now the time has come for a similar certificate of spacecraft. The World Economic Forum has crafted the new sustainability label, which has been named the Space Sustainable Rating, SSR.

SSR is not a general sustainability certification, but it focuses entirely on minimizing the amount of space debris in orbit around the earth. Today, there are 4,000 active satellites and millions of fragments of everything from color flakes to obsolete rocket stages flying around in orbit. A collision with debris could, in the worst case, create a chain reaction that knocks out many of the active satellites.

The idea with SSR is that those who send rockets, satellites and other things into orbit should be able to voluntarily grade their craft with SSR. The grading is based on a points system where data sharing, choice of orbit, methods for moving the craft out of orbit when it has served its cause, opportunities to avoid collisions and more are included. There are four levels of SSR and how many points a craft earns determines what levels of grading it gets.

In this way, anyone could quickly get a grip on how durable each launch and craft is when it comes to minimizing the amount of space debris.

β€œThe SSR aims to influence behavior by all spaceflight actors, especially commercial entities, and help bring into common usage the sustainable practices that we desperately require,” says Holger Krag, head of ESA's Space Safety Program, which helped develop SSR, in a press release.

SSR grading is voluntary, but the hope is that its will create a standard at that customers will require a certain SSR level from their suppliers. Much like a customer today can demand that a supplier has Requirement-labeled goods. Many companies in the space industry have also expressed their support for SSR. Airbus, Lockheed Martin and SpaceX are some of those who have said they intend to SSR-mark their launches.In 2022, the first SSR certifications will begin to be awarded.