EcoDesign | Let’s talk about the environmental impacts of a space mission

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.

Clean Space
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!

Clean Space

Comments

14 Comments

  • Tony Marshallsay says:

    I would very much like more details about this game, as I believe that serious efforts should be made to reuse the hundreds or thousands of tonnes of very expensive materiel which have been sent into orbit, rather than totally wasting it and polluting Earth’s atmosphere through deorbit burn-up.

  • Petra Bohackova says:

    Hi, I would like to use this game in my lessons.

    • Luisa says:

      Dear M. Bohackova,

      we have not thought about “distributing” the game but for sure we are open to consider this possibility.
      One of the difficulty in using the game is to have a very good overview of the space impacts and the game master would have to be trained.
      We will think about possible training sessions for game masters.
      Please note that we’re going to organise an eco-design workshop in September at ESTEC (Netherlands). Say tunned.
      do not hesitate to contact us (cleanspace@esa.int) if you have any question
      best regards,
      Luisa Innocenti

  • Alex Klootwijk says:

    Hi,

    My name is Alex, I am a student at the TU Delft. Currently I am following a course on the circular economy, a part that course is the LCA (Life-cycle assesment). I am really curious about the game you developed and would like to know more. Keep up the good work!

    Kind regards,

    Alex

    • Luisa says:

      Dear Alex,

      we have not thought about “distributing” the game but for sure we are open to consider this possibility.
      One of the difficulty in using the game is to have a very good overview of the space impacts and the game master would have to be trained.
      We will think about possible training sessions for game masters.
      do not hesitate to contact us (cleanspace@esa.int) if you have any question and you are welcome to contact us to pass by ESTEC since you are close by
      Please note that we will organise an eco-design workshop in estec in September. stay tuned
      best regards,
      Luisa Innocenti

  • Would be nice to make it open and available, as others might reproduce, and use into their classes.

    Nice job!

    • jessica says:

      Dear Christopher,
      As the game requires a trained game master it might be difficult to open it completely. We will think about your suggestion anyway.
      In september 2016, we’re going to organise an eco-design workshop at ESTEC, in the Netherlands. It could be an opportunity to come and play.
      Best regards,
      Jessica

  • Carmine says:

    I would like to partecipate!

    • jessica says:

      Dear Carmine,
      In sept. 16, we’ll organise an eco-design workshop at ESTEC and we’ll dedicate some time to the game. Stay tunned for updates!
      Cheers,
      Jessica

  • Jan says:

    Would really like to join a game session. How about organizing a game evening at ESTEC? ;)

  • Stephanie THERY says:

    What about an adaptation to EcoleVR using Virtual reality ?
    Can contact DIdier THery @DITHERNET
    Thomas Pesquet recently shared his wish to make space accessible to people via 3D,
    For better understanding of environmental challenges we face on and around the planet, I see a great opportunity of synergies
    Kind regards
    Wish your project wo touch many people
    Stephanie Thery

  • Stephanie THERY says:

    Please keep me posted if game sessions

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