This project is expected to demonstrate to which extent space-based data centers would limit the energy and environmental impact of their ground counterparts, thus allowing major investments within the scope of Europe’s Green Deal, possibly justifying the development of a more climate-friendly, reusable heavy launch vehicle. Europe could thus regain its leadership in space transport and space logistics, as well as the assembly and operations of large infrastructures in orbit.
The first objective of this study will be to assess if the carbon emissions from the production and launch of these space infrastructures will be significantly lower than the emissions generated by ground-based data centers, therefore contributing to the achievement of global carbon neutrality. The second objective will be to prove that it is possible to develop the required launch solution and to ensure the deployment and operability of these spaceborne data centers using robotic assistance technologies currently being developed in Europe, such as the EROSS IOD demonstrator.
Cameras and sensors from space are keeping close watch of events on the ground and transmitting this data to Earth. But sending data to the ground takes time. One solution is to launch data centres into orbit. This would reduce the exponential impact of digital technology on energy consumption and climate warming. The installation of large modular space infrastructures with robotic assembly, megawatt level space-based solar power, high throughput optical communications, low cost and reusable launchers is within reach. The EU-funded ASCEND project will introduce a pioneering new on orbit services system concept. This would make Europe a world leader in robotised and sustainable modular infrastructures as well as reusable launchers. Europe could thus regain its leadership in space transport and space logistics, as well as the assembly and operations of large infrastructures in orbit.