Space Traffic Control System - Abstract
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Space Traffic Control System

Van Hoang, et. all

April 7, 1995

Executive Overview

Since the first study of orbital debris in the early 1970's, the number of orbiting objects cataloged by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has more than tripled. The Space Surveillance Network (SSN) operated by the U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) has cataloged and tracked about 7,000 artificial objects orbiting the Earth [Kessler:20]. In the near-vacuum of outer space, no forces act to slow the debris down, thus small objects with relatively high velocities can cause severe damage. Due to the concerns about spaceflight safety from the hazards of orbital debris, Advanced Space Traffic Regulation Organization (ASTRO) has been contracted under proposal #ASE274L to submit a comprehensive program for a space traffic control system.

The proposed space traffic control system from ASTRO performs four main functions. The system is designed to 1) track and catalog both natural and manmade orbital debris, 2) monitor space traffic (such as the Space Shuttle or Station), 3) determine free orbits, orbits with minimal probability of collisions, for the insertion of new satellites or for avoidance maneuvers, and 4) predict and warn of collisions for both spacecraft/spacecraft and spacecraft/debris collisions. The system would utilize current technology and should be fully operational by the completion of the Space Station.

The system design contains the various functions that need to be completed for the system to be operational. An information network will be built in order to link all the data from the various surveillance sites around the world together. Computer processing will be utilized to determine the orbital elements and any possible collisions. There will also be a facility solely concerned with the interaction of satellite owners and collision/avoidance maneuver information. The pertinent hardware, software, and system requirements will be included in the applicable sections.