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Fundamentals for the development of impact categories for the application of LCA in space - space debris

: Ko, N.; Bouslama, R.; Betten, T.; Pfeuffer, S.


Materiaux et techniques 107 (2019), Nr.1, Art. 106, 9 S.
ISSN: 0032-6895
Society and Materials (SAM Conference) <12, 2018, Metz>
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Konferenzbeitrag
Fraunhofer IBP ()

The measurable environmental impacts associated with space travel are still relatively low, compared to the total anthropogenic emissions. Yet, its significance will increase with a general increase in space travel. State-of-The-Art assessments of space systems are limited to a cradle-To-launch scope and need to be extended to cover the whole life cycle. Previous work established that Life Cycle Assessment is a suitable tool to cover these additional impacts, with the impacts of space debris being identified as the most relevant at the moment. First, the work by Maury et al. on orbital scarcity, developing impact pathways of space debris as an impact on resource depletion, is discussed. Afterwards, this study takes an anthropocentric view and impact pathways of space debris as an impact on human health are developed. The two different areas of damage by space debris in space by collision and during the re-entry were identified and discussed separately. The chosen impact category for both damage categories is disability-Adjusted life years (DALY). Calculation approaches for the physical damage caused in space and during re-entry are developed. To calculate the impacts of toxic and radioactive substances that are emitted or produced by collision or re-entry further research is needed. The work of Maury et al. complements the indicators, developed in this study. Yet, not all of the impacts of space debris are completely covered and need to be studied further. Nevertheless, as a next step towards integrating the impacts of space debris a practical implementation assessing changes to orbital scarcity and potential impacts on human health by space debris is considered as feasible and important.