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NASA Orbital Debris Program Office

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Last Updated: 02 July 2021

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General | Latest Info

The ever-growing number of satellites and orbital debris in Space prompted calls for change at the House hearing, although how this will be legislated is still under consideration. At issue is the rise of privately owned satellite constellations by companies such as SpaceX and OneWeb. Satellites today are smaller and more affordable than big machines of past decades, thanks to advancements in technology. But with fleets of small satellites come other risks, such as more chances for them to slam into each other. And high-profile near misses are starting to become more common. This is one of the most important and rapidly evolving issues facing our ability to operate in Space, said Kendra Horn, D-Okla., Chair of the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, in her opening statement at a hearing in Washington, on Feb. 11. Two large, defunct and uncontrollable satellites nearly collided in orbit two weeks ago, passing about 60 feet from each other, narrowly avoiding a collision that could have sent thousands of pieces of space junk into low Earth orbit. And in late 2019, European Space Agency had to redirect one of its satellites to reduce the risk of collision; another satellite operator, SpaceX, did not respond to requests to move its own machine out of the way. This doesn't even mention numerous confirmed examples of space collisions and space junk over decades that, in some cases, are still causing problems today. For example, International Space Station has changed its orbit in the past to dodge dangerous space debris. Space assets such as weather satellites, telecommunications links and GPS navigation system for the United States are among vital links of space infrastructure that could be knocked out if collisions continue. The US Department of Defense has a catalog of more than 20 000 known space objects, Horn say, although this number has a couple of limitations. The Catalog only represents unclassified satellites or objects, and it also indicates the number of trackable objects. There are some things in Space that are just too small to be tracked with current technology. Space is going to get more crowded, Horn say, as thousands of new objects join what's already in Space. The SpaceX Starlink constellation could have more than 12 000 satellites alone in a few years, and it is already raising concerns from astronomers for its bright objects blocking night-sky observations. The House Subcommittee commissioned a few experts to speak on how lawmakers can address this problem, under provision in the 2020 NASA budget to carry out research and development activities concerning Space debris mitigation, and to consider strategy for Space situational awareness research and technology. The solutions proposed are diverse, but for the most part, experts say they will likely involve using several government entities that could include NASA, Department of Commerce and other possibilities. There may be some private industry involvement as well.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Modeling

NASA scientists continue to develop and upgrade Orbital Debris Models to describe and characterize the current and future Debris Environment. Engineering Models, such as ORDEM2000, can be used for Debris Impact Risk assessments for Spacecraft and Satellites, including the International Space Station and Space Shuttle. Evolutionary Models, such as EVOLVE and LEGEND, are designed to predict the future Debris Environment. They are reliable tools to study how the future Debris Environment reacts to various mitigation practices. ORDEM2000 was replaced in 2010 by ORDEM2010. This release represents significant improvement in NASA ODPOs empirically-base Debris Assessment Modeling Program. This version of a long-running series includes ten years of additional data, new validated high-fidelity Environment Models, New statistical processes For Data and Model Analysis, extension of Modeling through GEO, inclusion of Debris material density, and a new Spacecraft-encompassing igloo Analysis package, with advanced companion GUI.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Reentry

Some Orbital debris may eventually reenter the atmosphere. This usually occurs through the gradual process of Orbital energy removal associated with air drag. Timescale For Debris Orbital decay depends on Orbital altitude and ratio of surface area to mass of debris; larger area-to-mass ratio, faster debris decays. At altitudes of 600 km, typical timescales for smallest tracked Orbital Debris to decay is 12 to 18 months, whereas at 1 000 km, lifetime may be centuries. Note that reentry is controlled strongly by changes in air density in the upper atmosphere, which is modulated by solar activity. At times of high solar activity, upper atmosphere is heat and expand; this tends to hasten the rate of debris orbit decay. The vast majority of reentering debris is too small to survive reentry; It is entirely consumed in the upper atmosphere via melting and vaporization. Larger debris, especially debris made of high-melting-point materials such as titanium or stainless steel, however, may survive partially or in full to reach ground. Removing derelict Space Objects to reduce Orbital Debris hazards is merely transferring of risk from space to ground, which must also be manage. NASA Technical Standard 8719. 14 dictates that the risk to people on ground worldwide from reentry of a piece of space hardware must not pose a hazard greater than 1 in 10 000. 1 Adherence to probabilistic casualty metrics can be determined by using one of two NASA applications: Debris Assessment Software and Object Reentry Survival Analysis Tool. Debris Assessment Software is a tool developed to provide NASA programs with a simple step-by-step menu-driven application for Orbital Debris assessments that are compliant with STD 8719. 14. If ODAs show non-compliance, DAS provide means to examine debris mitigation options to meet compliance standards. DAS, however, should not be confused with ORDEM, which provides opportunity to analyze more technical aspects of the debris environment. Evaluation of hardware reliability, shield design, and other parameters will require engineering tools such as ORDEM and BUMPER. It is important to note that STD 8719. 14 contains actual Mission requirements, while DAS is the only Software Tool that assists in determining compliance. 2 DAS produces first-order Assessment of human casualty risks associated with uncontrolled Space Object reentries that, by design, yield slightly conservative result. If a program or project meets Reentry Risk requirements using DAS, no more calculations are require. However, if a program or project does not meet the requirements for Reentry Risk using DAS, then ORSAT will need to be exercise. 1 NASA, Process For Limiting Orbital Debris, NASA-STD 8719. 14, Washington, DC, September 2009. 2 NASA, Debris Assessment Software Users Guide, JSC 64047, NASA Johnson Space Flight Center, Houston, Tex., November 2007. ORSAT is a semi-empirical model that determines survivability of reentering hardware. 3 This tool can be used for both control and uncontrolled reentry.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

International collaboration

US entitiesit must go through the well-establish formal rule-making process required by the Administrative Procedure Act, 6 process that applies to both federal executive departments and independent agencies. Absent this process, there is no legally binding rule. It can be expected that the 2010 National Space Policy will likely increase demands placed on NASAs meteoroid and Orbital Debris programs. It can also be expected that clear rules will facilitate the interagency process needed to meet this demand. Under the heading of Preserving Space Environment and Responsible Use of Space, Policy States that the United States shall equire the head of sponsoring department or Agency to approve exceptions to United States Government Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices and notify the Secretary of State. 7 this language implies a nascent process relevant to US Standard Practices including the 25-year rule. However, it is still only State Policy. As National Policy, it is a substantial statement of guiding authority. Nonetheless, it still does not rise to the level of APA rule-making process. There are multiple sets of existing guidelines concerning Orbital Debris, none of which are legally binding. They include those issued by NASA, European Space Agency, Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination could leave debris near ISS orbit, would be reviewed per requirements in this document as part of the approval process to approach ISS. See NASA, NASA Procedural Requirements for Limiting Orbital Debris, NPR 8715. 6A, Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Tex., May 14 2009, p. 5, available at http: / orbitaldebris. Jsc. NASA. Gov / library / npr_8715_006a. Pdf. 7 National Space Policy of United States of America, June 28 2010, pp. 7-8, available at http: / www. Whitehouse. Gov / sit / default / file / national_space_policy_6-28-10. Pdf, accessed July 6 2011.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Sources

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

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