On Tuesday last week ESA HQ held for the first time a game about the environmental life-cycle assessment of a space mission.
What the hell is that you might wonder… The answer is: it’s a game where you learn the types of issues that need to be considered when evaluating the environmental impacts of a space mission. And trust me, this can give you headache – it’s a complex job.
Luckily we found a way to simplify the process and explain it to everyone.
So here is a very basic explanation. When looking at the environmental impacts of anything, it’s important to analyse the entire life cycle. Otherwise, you can miss important impacts. Imagine if we wanted to know whether electric cars were good for the environment but didn’t analyse the manufacture of the battery.
The same goes for a space mission; whilst the part that most people see is the rocket launch with the cloud of exhaust left in its trail, looking at the entire life cycle of a space mission (from design to build to use to disposal) can bring up some very interesting, and unexpected results! Another key lesson that the game attempts to bring home, is that environmental impact on its own, is too vague a term. Impacts can be vastly ranging, from the well known CO2 emissions, to the use of the Earth’s mineral resources, to the toxicity to humans – the list goes on!
Are you interested in learning about how a space mission impacts the environment? Let us know and we’ll organize a game session with you!