Life cycle engineering of space systems: Preliminary findings

Volumen:  72 (2023)   |  Pages:  19   |  Year of Publication:  2021  | License:  CC BY 4.0

What is the objective?

To provide a general indication of the sustainability footprint of space missions for the first time.

Our Short Summary.

LCE is commonly applied in areas where sustainability concerns coincide with design and production engineering. Therefore, the authors used the Strathclyde Space Systems Database and applied Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis to quantitatively determine the sustainability impacts of early space missions. The article considered twelve impact categories at midpoint level: air acidification, climate change, social impact, whole life cost, among others. As a result, the scores generated for each of the sustainability dimensions should be used instead of a single sustainability score.

Why you should read it!

The article is intended for practitioners, academic entrepreneurs and decision-makers interested in the design of sustainable next-generation space systems in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Original Abstract

The application of Life Cycle Engineering (LCE) within the concurrent engineering process presents a viable method for assessing environmental, social and economic impacts of space missions. Despite this, the novelty of the concept within space mission design has meant that the approach has not yet been widely implemented. This paper successfully demonstrates this technique for the first time and presents LCE results of three SmallSat missions designed at the University of Strathclyde using the concurrent engineering approach. The Strathclyde Space Systems Database (SSSD) was deployed to calculate the total life cycle impacts of each mission, including the identification of common design hotspots. A novel technique called Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) was also trialled, whereby several impact categories were converted into single scores as a test case to reduce the learning curve for engineers. Overall, the LCE results indicate that the manufacturing & production of the launcher dominate the majority of impact categories. Other common hotspots were found to relate to the use of germanium as a substrate as well as the launch event. As an additional observation, in terms of the behavioural aspects, it was clear that study participants were more open to the concept of LCE with each new concurrent engineering session, evidenced by increasing levels of interaction amongst study participants. These findings are intended to provide industrial stakeholders with a preliminary benchmark relating to the general sustainability footprint of SmallSats, whilst demonstrating the viability of integrating LCE within the concurrent engineering process of space missions.


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