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Securing the Space Domain with Active Orbital Debris Removal: Lessons from Europe and Japan Towards a U.S. Strategy

Securing the Space Domain with Active Orbital Debris Removal: Lessons from Europe and Japan... The proliferation of orbital debris poses a significant threat to spacecraft and satellites in outer space. As the United States currently operates the highest number of satellites in space, its space assets face a heightened risk of orbital debris collision. Mitigation of debris is important, but insufficiently addresses that risk. Debris remediation efforts can supplement mitigation to reduce future collision risks by decreasing the number of large debris, particularly in crowded low Earth Orbit (LEO). After investigating the risks that orbital debris present and current efforts to manage their impact, this paper argues that there is need to implement a national Active Debris Removal (ADR) strategy to protect U.S. space assets and improve the space environment for safe operations. Based on two case studies examining the ADR initiatives of Europe and Japan, we draw four main recommendations for U.S. implementation: (1) commercial initiatives towards ADR capabilities in LEO are promising, (2) government support of an ADR commercial market ensures the latter’s long-term viability, (3) commercial initiatives lower ADR cost and invite innovation, improving the ADR chances of success, and (4) starting with simpler ADR cases reduces U.S. government risk and lowers investment requirements for companies. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Astropolitics Taylor & Francis

Securing the Space Domain with Active Orbital Debris Removal: Lessons from Europe and Japan Towards a U.S. Strategy

Astropolitics , Volume 21 (2-3): 23 – Sep 2, 2023
23 pages

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Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
This work was authored as part of the Contributor’s official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.
ISSN
1477-7622
eISSN
1557-2943
DOI
10.1080/14777622.2023.2274922
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The proliferation of orbital debris poses a significant threat to spacecraft and satellites in outer space. As the United States currently operates the highest number of satellites in space, its space assets face a heightened risk of orbital debris collision. Mitigation of debris is important, but insufficiently addresses that risk. Debris remediation efforts can supplement mitigation to reduce future collision risks by decreasing the number of large debris, particularly in crowded low Earth Orbit (LEO). After investigating the risks that orbital debris present and current efforts to manage their impact, this paper argues that there is need to implement a national Active Debris Removal (ADR) strategy to protect U.S. space assets and improve the space environment for safe operations. Based on two case studies examining the ADR initiatives of Europe and Japan, we draw four main recommendations for U.S. implementation: (1) commercial initiatives towards ADR capabilities in LEO are promising, (2) government support of an ADR commercial market ensures the latter’s long-term viability, (3) commercial initiatives lower ADR cost and invite innovation, improving the ADR chances of success, and (4) starting with simpler ADR cases reduces U.S. government risk and lowers investment requirements for companies.

Journal

AstropoliticsTaylor & Francis

Published: Sep 2, 2023

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