Accession Number:

ADA633319

Title:

End-of-Life Disposal of Satellites in Low-Earth Orbit

Descriptive Note:

Standard

Corporate Author:

AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND LOS ANGELES AFB CA SPACE AND MISSILE SYSTEMS CENTER

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2010-03-19

Pagination or Media Count:

48.0

Abstract:

According to the U.S. Government Orbital Debris Standard Practices, 1 a spacecraft or upper stage with perigee altitude below 2000 km in its final mission orbit may be disposed of by using an atmospheric reentry option. The guideline for atmospheric reentry is stated as follows Leave the structure in an orbit in which, using conservative projections for solar activity, atmospheric drag will limit the lifetime to no longer than 25 years after completion of mission. If drag enhancement devices are to be used to reduce the orbit lifetime, it should be demonstrated that such devices will significantly reduce the area-time product of the system or will not cause spacecraft or large debris to fragment if a collision occurs while the system is decaying from orbit. The Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee IADC Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines state Whenever possible space systems that are terminating their operational phases in orbits that pass through the LEO region, or have the potential to interfere with the LEO region, should be de-orbited direct re-entry is preferred or where appropriate maneuvered into an orbit with a reduced lifetime. Retrieval is also a disposal option. A space system should be left in an orbit in which, using an accepted nominal projection for solar activity, atmospheric drag will limit the orbital lifetime after completion of operations. A study on the effect of post-mission orbital lifetime limitation on collision rate and debris population growth has been performed by the IADC. This IADC and some other studies and a number of existing national guidelines have found 25 years to be a reasonable and appropriate lifetime limit. If a space system is to be disposed of by re-entry into the atmosphere, debris that survives to reach the surface of the Earth should not pose an undue risk to people or property...

Subject Categories:

  • Unmanned Spacecraft
  • Spacecraft Trajectories and Reentry

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE