Space Sustainability Rating




The Space Sustainability Rating

The Space Sustainability Rating design team—comprised of the World Economic Forum, the European Space Agency, the Space Enabled research group at MIT, the University of Texas at Austin, and BryceTech—announces that the EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) Space Center, which was selected as the operator for the SSR, is creating a nonprofit called the "Space Sustainability Rating" to operate the program. In June 2022, the EPFL Space Center formally launched the operations of the Space Sustainability Rating and issued the first rating to a paying client. Read more in the press release here.

Space Enabled is also announcing that Prof. Moriba Jah has been named an MIT Martin Luther King Visiting Professor for 2023. Prof. Danielle Wood and Prof. Jah spoke about research collaboration in 2021 at a virtual event hosted by the MIT Media Lab "Perspectives Series."

Project Overview

The global space community is witnessing a rapid increase in creative business models and new technologies that are leading to plans to launch thousands of satellites into Low Earth Orbit. The number of satellites being proposed is much greater than the historical patterns that have been seen globally to date. While the technology has the potential to bring useful societal services, in areas such as satellite communication and earth observation, there is a growing risk that the capacity of Earth orbit to accommodate such a large set of new space objects safely may be in jeopardy.

The Space Sustainability Rating is an initiative that seeks to foster voluntary action by satellite operators to reduce the risk of space debris, on-orbit collisions, and unsustainable space operations. The concept for the Space Sustainability Rating was conceived by the Global Future Council on Space Technologies of the World Economic Forum through a series of workshops starting. The World Economic Forum held a competitive call for proposals in 2018 and selected a team composed of four organizations to design the Space Sustainability Rating; these organizations include the European Space Agency, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, and Bryce, Space and Technology. These four organizations formed a consortium with the World Economic Forum to define the technical and programmatic aspects of the Space Sustainability Rating during the period from 2019 through 2021. The Consortium brings expertise in the areas of modeling and evaluating the impact of space debris in Earth orbit, astrodynamics, characterization of space objects, technology policy, space economics and understanding of the role of emerging countries and private actors in the space sector.

Read more about the project at these links:

Press Release from the World Economic Forum

Announcement from MIT Media Lab

Press Release from European Space Agency

Announcement: Prof. Jah joining Space Enabled as an Affiliated Researcher

Announcement: Prof. Jah and Prof. Wood present virtual talk on "Space Environmentalism" on June 24.


Space Sustainability Rating: Evaluating Sustainability in Space

Released: 11 May 2021

The video highlights the design and development of the Space Sustainability Rating (SSR) to date. Featuring short presentations from stakeholders and members of the SSR consortium, the video provides details of the history of the SSR, selected modules, and next steps.

Space Sustainability Rating: Designing a Composite Indicator to Incentivise Satellite Operators to Pursue Long-Term Sustainability of the Space Environment

Released: 9 October 2020

The video summarizes the SSR paper published at the 71st International Astronautical Congress, providing an in-depth description into the methodology used to design the SSR, based on successful rating systems in other industries such as LEED (green building energy and environmental design). The video further explores key questions including; (i) what factors are most important to influence whether an operator seeks to reduce the potential for debris creation, (ii) how can the SSR can contribute to existing mechanisms (eg. UN Long-term Sustainability Guidelines, IADC) in supporting long-term space sustainability, and (iii) how can the SSR educate policy makers regarding manufacturers’ and operators’ motivations in choosing specific criteria and certifications in designing their mission to achieve a high rating or improve their existing rating.

Link to the paper: Space Sustainability Rating: Designing a Composite Indicator to Incentivise Satellite Operators to Pursue Long-Term Sustainability of the Space Environment

SSR Publications

1) 72nd International Astronautical Congress—October 2021

Implementing the Space Sustainability Rating: An Innovative Tool to Foster Long-term Sustainability in Orbit

2) Space Sustainability Rating Workshop, hosted by the European Space Agency - April 2021

Read the slides from the workshop to learn more about the SSR.

3) European Space Debris Conference - April 2021

Framework for the Space Sustainability Rating

4) Space Traffic Management Conference, hosted by International Academy of Astronautics-University of Texas at Austin -  January 2021

Developing Detectability, Identifiability, Trackability Analyses for the Space Sustainability Rating

5) 71st International Astronautical Congress—October 2020

Space Sustainability Rating: Designing a Composite Indicator to Incentivise Satellite Operators to Pursue Long-Term Sustainability of the Space Environment

6) Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference - September 2020

Contribution from SSA data to the definition of a Space Sustainability Rating

7) 70th International Astronautical Congress - October 2019

Space Sustainability Rating: Towards An Assessment Tool To Assuring The Long-Term Sustainability Of The Space Environment