Advanced methods of life cycle assessment for space systems

  • Andrew Wilson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Environmental Life Cycle Assessment is increasingly being applied within the space industry to scientifically quantify environmental impacts of space missions over their entire life cycle. This technique is particularly useful in early mission design phases since adverse life cycle impacts are more difficult to modify the later into the design process that they are identified. However, the use of Environmental Life Cycle Assessment does not fully align with the concept of sustainability envisioned within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which seeks to "balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental". Despite this, combining all three sustainability dimensions within a single life cycle study has thus far never been attempted within the space industry. To address this, a new space-specific Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment framework and database was developed to assist industry advance this methodology by integrating social and economic considerations into concurrent engineering activities. This approach combines Environmental Life Cycle Assessment, Social Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Costing to enable engineers to create sustainable technologies and products for space that are cost-efficient, eco-efficient and socially responsible in the frame of the 2030 Agenda. The application of the developed approach has been exemplified using case studies for the design of next generation sustainable space systems, allowing conclusions to be reached based on the interactions of each sustainability dimension during the mission design process. It is expected this approach will assist the space industry to streamline future decision-making and monitoring in a more systematic and coordinated fashion which accords with the vision of sustainability outlined in the 2030 Agenda.
Date of Award13 May 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde & EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
SupervisorMassimiliano Vasile (Supervisor) & Christie Maddock (Supervisor)

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