The impact of policies on the orbital debris population

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Kreger, Ella
Dutta, Atri

Kreger, Ella and Dutta, Atri. The impact of policies on the orbital debris population. -- Fyre in STEM Showcase, 2023.


The amount of debris in low earth and geostationary orbit has become a growing concern for all entities involved in space operations. However, the content of the policies incorporated in the last 40 years to mitigate the risks posed by in-orbit debris cannot manage space traffic sufficiently. To fully grasp the severity and implications of the situation, the relationship between the number of debris in orbit and the number of policies in place, the number of launches every year, and the ratio of debris to payloads in high-risk orbits were studied. A case study on the time it would take for a STARLINK satellite to de-orbit to examine the impact of satellites in orbit more clearly was also conducted. Orbital debris is a dangerous hazard to manned and unmanned spacecraft. One main gap in mitigating the debris population is the lack of international policy content consistency. Although this initial study illustrates the severity of the situation, further work needs to be done to determine which policies should be implemented internationally to stop the problem from getting worse.

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Poster and abstract presented at the FYRE in STEM Showcase, 2023.
Research project completed at the Department of Aerospace Engineering.