Matériaux & Techniques
Volume 105, Number 5-6, 2017
Society and Materials (SAM11)
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Environnement - recyclage / Environment - recycling|
|Published online||06 June 2018|
LCA in space − current status and future development
University of Stuttgart, Institute for Acoustics and Building Physics, Dept. Life Cycle Engineering,
* e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 3 January 2018
This paper represents the first stage of extending the scope of LCA to space and is intended as a discussion starter. Based on the assumption, that the future and outlast of humanity lies within the exploration and colonisation of space, the LCA methodology as of today, is discussed with regards to its capabilities to cover the impact of human activities in space. Based on this assessment, ideas whether and how LCA can be extended are outlined. Initially, an understanding of additional environmental impacts which occur in space compared to Earth is built up by the means of literature research. The state of the art of space regulations and availability of LCAs in space and for astronautics is clarified as well. Further literature research was conducted on the LCA subtopic of regionalization. Based on this and assumptions regarding future space travel, the suitability of LCA as an assessment method is validated. Afterwards, different potential development phases of LCA towards its applicability in space are defined. For activities in space, the regarded environmental impacts have to be expanded (e.g. space debris, extra-terrestrial life toxicity, etc.). Space regulations, if in place, cover only impacts of space activities on Earth so far. LCAs for space activities are not widespread yet. One reason for this is that the state of the art LCA methodology has not been expanded and existing regionalisation approaches are not easily transferable to space. Critical issues are faced in all phases of an LCA and include widening of boundaries, definition of space regions, finding suitable reference units and ethical problems. As a result, four LCA development phases are suggested: Earth-bound, solar system-bound, transition phase and intergalactic. Each phase involves different activities and goals, which result in different system boundaries and impact categories and widen the scope of LCA subsequently. It is a long way for humanity to populate space and so, it is for enabling LCA to assess these activities. The methodology of LCA is flexible and capable to make this adaptation. This paper can be seen as a starting point of a discussion opening up many questions. Some of these questions can only be answered in the future with more certainty about the development of space colonialization.
Key words: future application of LCA / extension LCA methodology / space / space resources / regionalization
© EDP Sciences, 2018
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