Space Station: Delays in Dealing with Space Debris May Reduce Safety and Increase Costs
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON DC United States
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Space debris-orbiting remnants from past space missions-presents a relatively new and long-lasting danger to future space endeavors. On two recent missions, the space shuttle had to maneuver to avoid on coming debris collision with these objects would have destroyed the shuttle. The National Aeronautics and Space Administrations NASA planned Space Station Freedom will be even more vulnerable to space debris than the shuttle because of its large size, its altitude in a relatively debris-laden orbit, and the long duration of its mission. Building the station to withstand or avoid potentially catastrophic collisions with space debris is essential for its viability. Given the importance of the space station to NASAS manned space program, you asked that we provide information on NASAS progress in incorporating the latest estimate of the debris environment into space station design requirements. You also asked us to determine if NASA had an overall strategy for protecting the station from small, medium, and large space debris, and to report on its efforts to keep the debris environment model current.
- Unmanned Spacecraft
- Spacecraft Trajectories and Reentry