Finkleman D.,Center for Space Standards and Innovation
52nd AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting - AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition, SciTech 2014 | Year: 2014
This paper implies sound and demonstrable justification for removing large, uncontrollable objects in near Earth orbit. It builds on nonlinear analyses of the evolution of the debris environment that demonstrate and confirm that stabilizing the debris environment will take centuries and that stabilization cannot necessarily be attributed to removing small numbers of large debris. However, several large elements of space debris impose near term risk to important active satellites, and removing them will mitigate clear and present danger. We note that the spacefaring nations and industries can control only two of the many parameters governing evolution of the debris environment: satellite deployment rate and the on-orbit lifetime of active satellites. There are launch rates and lifetimes that can actually reduce the debris population while sustaining a meaningful cohort of useful satellites. The best motivation for active debris removal is to reduce current risk to important capabilities and to mitigate debris creation for current operational safety. Debris removal by itself cannot affect future risk or environments much.