European Space Agency planning in-orbit circular economy

11 January 2024 14:34

Paris - The European Space Agency’s Clean Space Initiative plans to cut space debris through 2030 as part of a circular economy that officials hope will be thriving sustainably by 2050. The ESA has called for proposals for 100,000 Euros to develop and design circular economic solutions for space.

The European Space Agency, or ESA, plans to use the millions of pieces of space debris floating around the Earth to foster an in-orbit circular economy in aerospace goods and services.

"ESA aims to reduce the environmental impact of its activities," said Antonio Caiazzo, space systems engineer at ESA and campaign manager in a  January 10 press release. “Space circular economy is essentially one of the ways we could achieve that in the long-term.”

Called the Clean Space Initiative, the plan would cut space junk through 2030 as the first step of a full-blown circular economy that ESA experts hope will be thriving sustainably by 2050. The ESA envisioned in-orbit servicing, assembly, manufacturing, and recycling.

“Now we want to tackle those challenges and push them forwards to make this revolutionary space ecosystem a reality,” Caiazzo said.

Paris-based ESA has called for proposals to help develop and execute the plan.

"This call for proposals intends to select preliminary mission or concept systems to do this type of operation in space," ESA Young Graduate Trainee Calum Turner. "We really encourage innovative ideas coming from academia and industry."

Proposals should identify the technologies, readiness, and feasibility of their solutions for the space circular economy. February 16 is the deadline for submissions. As many as five teams will  have six months and a 100,000 Euro-budget to develop and design their mission architecture. Officials will use the ESA’s SysNova technology scheme to assess projects. One team would gain access to experts at the ESA’s Concurrent Design Facility and the agency’s ESA's Ministerial Council. ce/jd

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