Debris Removal - Abstract
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Debris Removal

Debora C. Hoetger

May 1993


The amount of debris in orbit is increasing at an astonishing rate. Pieces of existing debris collide with each other in a self-perpetuating cycle of exponential growth. Eventually, there will be no usable orbits. The Laser Tracking and Removal (LTAR) satellite was designed not only to monitor the debris problem, but also to begin solving it. This satellite uses a laser ranging concept to track large pieces of orbital debris and determine their orbital elements to a higher degree of accuracy than ground based tracking centers. These parameters will be sent to NORAD to update their orbital debris tracking data. The laser will also be used to de-orbit small pieces of debris by using photon pressure to impart a delta V. Should the satellite miss the de-orbit opportunity, or if sufficient delta V was not imparted, the satellite will catalogue, or 'flag', the piece, de-orbiting it on the next revolution. The satellite will have an on board catalogue of all known satellites so that live satellites will not be targeted for removal.


Last Modified: February 25, 1999