Space Safety and Sustainability Project Group

Our Current Projects:

1. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Project Leads: Hannah Currivan and Divyesh Patel

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) were adopted by all UN member states in a global effort to create a better future for all. The aim of this project is to publish a series of articles sensitizing and revealing how space technology supports the UN SDGs. Small teams can dive into, research, and develop a topic of their choice during 2-4 months each and write an article. Those shall be published on the SSS PG website as well as the SSS PG Facebook channel and shall be featured on the SSS Newsletter. The articles shall be aimed at professionals in space technology and sustainability as well as interested non-professionals and professionals in adjacent fields. This project will be supported by the SSS PG PR team and gives the opportunity for regular and broader visibility of the PG’s activities. Additional outputs such as academic articles and, eventually a book, can also be considered.

2. SSS Essay Competition

Project Leads: Mitchie Anne Richelle Kenept and Eleni Charitonos

After two successful editions of the SSS Essay Competition this initiative has been made annual. A third edition shall be launched towards the end of 2021. This project involves working on the organisation of an essay competition on subjects related to SSS goals: space safety and sustainability of outer space activities. The project will involve the engagement of our advisory board, as well as establishing new partnerships with public and private entities as well as PR and communication activities for the advertisement of the competition.

3. On-Orbit Servicing

Project Leads: Yakov Bobrov and Federico Orrego Mendez

This project is a continuation of research from previous years on enhancing spacecraft safety and the space environment sustainability through On-Orbit Servicing (OSS), active maintenance, and lifetime enhancement techniques. This study will facilitate the validation of the conclusions drawn in the previous projects and assess the feasibility of using water plasma propulsion, a novel technology pioneered by Momentus, for an on-orbit towing spacecraft. Furthermore, an on-orbit towing of a depleted satellite will be contrasted to a novel idea developed by Northrop Grumman’s Space Logistics LLC – incorporating Mission Extension Pods, an auxiliary propulsion system, using a novel Mission Robotic Vehicle. The study shall be concluded with updates on on-orbit servicing from a legal and policy perspective. The outcome of the project will either be a conference or journal publication.

4. Environmental Impacts of Space Activities

Project Leads: Loïs Miraux and Krisit Acuff

Space-based environmental monitoring services are making great efforts to curb climate change and provide societies with the means to respond to this global threat and support decision-making. Comprehensive studies and reports on the benefits of space activities on the environment are numerous. However, just like any industry, the space industry also has negative impacts on the environment that are important to identify, quantify, and reduce. This project consists of drawing up a global outlook on the impacts of space activities and on the associated challenges and solutions, in the form of a report.

5. Risks and Benefits of Satellite Constellations

Project Leads: Alberto Candida De Matteo and Giuliana Ratola

Activities of the industry in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) have greatly increased in recent years. Currently, 2,000 satellites are orbiting Earth at an altitude lower than 1,000 km. This number is assured to greatly increase in the next few years mainly due to the deployment of large telecommunications constellations by providers such as SpaceX, OneWeb, and Amazon. A large number of satellites in LEO has relevant effects on human activities, manifested as both risks and benefits. This project investigates these positive and negative effects, identifying the humanitarian improvements that constellations allow to achieve and the problems that they create in form of a report.

Besides the annual project teams the SSS PG recently started a SSS Newsletter and a SSS PR team. With the help of this core SSS team larger visibility of our activities, projects and members shall be established.