The current state of space debris

The current state of space debris
Despite progress in technology, and in understanding the space environment, the need for significantly increasing the pace in applying proposed measures to reduce debris creation has been identified at Europe’s largest-ever space debris conference (more via International Consensus on Debris Threat). Credit: European Space Agency

Swirling fragments of past space endeavors are trapped in orbit around Earth, threatening our future in space. Over time, the number, mass and area of these debris objects grows steadily, boosting the risk to functioning satellites.


ESA’s Space Debris Office constantly monitors this ever-evolving debris situation, and every year publishes a report on the current state of the debris environment.

Since the beginning of the space age in 1957, tons of rockets, spacecraft and instruments have been launched to space. Initially, there was no plan for what to do with them at the end of their lives. Since then, numbers have continued to increase and

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Space debris a frequent topic at Satellite Innovation 2020

SAN FRANCISCO – Tracking and avoiding the growing debris field in low Earth orbit was clearly on the minds of speakers on the first day of the Satellite Innovation 2020 conference.

“Today, unfortunately, there is a lot of debris up there,” said Tony Gingiss, OneWeb Satellites CEO. “We have to be able to track it and avoid it. But fundamentally, we also have to change the landscape in terms of … the responsibilities of the parties operating up there to actually make sure that we’re not creating more debris.”

As OneWeb, SpaceX and Amazon begin as a group to send tens of thousands of satellites into broadband constellations, industry and government officials acknowledge the growing risk of collisions.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering changing its rules for orbital debris mitigation, which have been in force since 2004.

“It’s pretty clear that the large constellation operators recognize that they’re going

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NASA, space industry seek new ways to cope with space debris

Oct. 5 (UPI) — NASA’s official watchdog panel has renewed calls for the agency to move faster on a plan to better track and mitigate dangers posed by orbiting debris in space.

Members of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel said during a regular meeting last week that the agency has made some progress, but it needs to focus on space debris as a top priority.

At stake is the safety of astronauts, anyone going into space on planned private missions and the nation’s growing fleet of satellites used for national security, communications and scientific observation.

Because debris orbits at thousands of miles per hour, even tiny pieces of space trash can puncture spacecraft.

The panel’s comments came on the heels of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine telling a Senate Committee on Wednesday that the agency needs Congress to fund a comprehensive strategy for debris tracking and management, including international outreach.

“I

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Faint orbital debris that threatens satellites not being monitored closely enough, warn astronomers

Faint orbital debris that threatens satellites not being monitored closely enough, warn astronomers
Examples of light curves extracted from the survey images for faint debris tracks. Owing to the strategies employed by the astronomers, stars appear as near-vertical streaks in the image thumbnails, while the objects of interest manifest as short trails. A significant degree of brightness variation can be seen for both examples. Credit: Blake et al., ASR, 2020

University of Warwick astronomers are warning that orbital debris posing a threat to operational satellites is not being monitored closely enough, as they publish a new survey finding that over 75% of the orbital debris they detected could not be matched to known objects in public satellite catalogs.


The astronomers are calling for more regular deep surveys of orbital debris at high altitudes to help characterize the resident objects and better determine the risks posed to the active satellites that we rely on for essential services, including communications, weather monitoring and navigation.

The

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ISS successfully dodges ‘unknown piece of space debris’

issnasa

The ISS has to watch out for space junk.


NASA

With space junk piling up around our planet, the International Space Station needed to perform a last-minute avoidance maneuver Tuesday to steer clear of an “unknown piece of space debris expected to pass within several kilometers.”

Mission Control in Houston conducted the move at 2:19 p.m. PT using the Russian Progress resupply spacecraft docked to the ISS to help nudge the station out of harm’s way. 

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Expedition 63 crew will relocate to their Soyuz spacecraft until the debris has passed by the station,” NASA said in a statement prior to the move. 

The maneuver went off smoothly, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine reported. “The astronauts are coming out of safe haven,” he tweeted after the ISS relocated.

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The ISS just avoided a ‘piece of unknown space debris’

An unknown piece of space debris was detected near the International Space Station, NASA said yesterday. The station executed an “avoidance maneuver” on Tuesday night to get out of the way of the debris, boosting its orbit around Earth. “At no time was the crew in any danger,” NASA wrote in a blog post.

Thrusters on an uncrewed Progress cargo ship attached to the station were used to boost the station’s orbit, according to NASA. During the maneuver, the astronauts on board the station moved into the Russian segment so that they’d be closer to the Soyuz passenger spacecraft. Once the 150-second-long maneuver was over, the crew went back to their normal activities.

It’s not clear yet what the space debris was, but NASA said that flight controllers in Houston were tracking the object with assistance from US Space Command. At one point, it was expected to come within 1.39

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ISS Moves To Avoid Space Debris

Astronauts on the International Space Station carried out an “avoidance maneuver” Tuesday to ensure they would not be hit by a piece of debris, said US space agency NASA, urging better management of objects in Earth’s orbit.

Russian and US flight controllers worked together during a two-and-a-half-minute operation to adjust the station’s orbit and move further away, avoiding collision.

The debris passed within about 1.4 kilometers (nearly one mile) of the ISS, NASA said.

The International Space Station -- seen here on August 26, 2020 -- is performing a maneuver to ensure it gets out of the way of a piece of space debris The International Space Station — seen here on August 26, 2020 — is performing a maneuver to ensure it gets out of the way of a piece of space debris Photo: NASA / Handout

The three crew members — two Russians and an American — relocated to be near their Soyuz spacecraft as the maneuver began so they could evacuate if necessary, NASA said, adding that the precaution was taken “out of an abundance of caution.”

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