Comprehensive Orbital Debris Management Program - Abstract
Comprehensive Orbital Debris Management Program

William Borchers,, et. all

May 4, 1990

Executive Summary

STRES, Incorporated has recently been contracted for the design of a comprehensive program for the control of orbital debris. This document describes the rationale and specifics of this type of design, as well as details the various components of the overall plan.

The problem of orbital debris has been steadily worsening since the first successful launch in 1957. Currently countries spend billions of dollars in attempts to shield space operations from damage caused by debris, and still these operations are often rendered useless by damage from collisions with debris. The hazards posed by orbital debris suggest the need for a progressive plan for the prevention of future debris, as well as the reduction of the current debris level. The proposed debris management plan includes debris removal systems and preventative techniques and policies.

The debris removal is directed at improving the current debris environment. Because of the variance in sizes of debris a single system cannot reasonably remove all kinds of debris. An active removal system, which deliberately retrieves targeted debris from known orbits, was determined to be effective in the disposal of debris tracked directly from earth. However, no effective system is currently available to remove the untrackable debris.

The debris prevention program is intended to protect the orbital environment from future abuses. This portion of the plan involves various methods and rules for future prevention of debris. The preventative techniques are protective methods that can be used in future design of payloads. The prevention policies are rules which should be employed to force the prevention of orbital debris.

The design process was governed by a management structure headed by a project manager and a technical manager. The project was completed on time and $7,432 over budget.