Space Life Cycle Assessment : a risk or opportunity for the USA?

Wilson, Andrew Ross and Scott Neumann, Shelia (2022) Space Life Cycle Assessment : a risk or opportunity for the USA? Space Education & Strategic Applications, 3 (1). ISSN 2693-2466 (

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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a standardized method of analysis which is used to scientifically quantify environmental impacts associated with products, processes, or services over their entire lifetime. Within the European space sector, the application and perceived importance of LCA has exponentially increased in recent years to the point that it is beginning to become entwined with the procurement process. As such, it is highly probable the technique will become a common element of space mission design within Europe before the end of the decade. In comparison, very little work on space LCA has been conducted within the United States of America (USA), meaning the country is beginning to lag behind others in its ability to account for the life cycle environmental impacts of its space operations. This could become a serious problem for United States (U.S.) original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers in the near-term future due to misalignment or noncompliance with European procurement policies, with the potential to cause widespread supply chain disruption. Therefore, this work examines the extent to which the USA has fallen behind Europe on LCA of space assets and the risk this poses. However, the identified benefits of space LCA highlight the method could also act as an indispensable mechanism to further business success within the U.S. space sector beyond solely policy compliance. As such, a set of recommendations are outlined to encourage an intensification of research and development (R&D) on the concept within the U.S. space sector as a foundational principle to a sustainable global space economy.


Wilson, Andrew Ross ORCID logoORCID: and Scott Neumann, Shelia;