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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Space Debris Removal and Use as Resources in Orbit

• by Brian Wang

The vast majority of these objects are too small to detect with radar systems, but there are over 29,000 known objects larger than 10 cm. Impacts between these objects and operating missions have damaged costly equipment, required expensive collision avoidance maneuvers, and endangered the lives of astronauts on the international space station. In 1979 the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office, in conjunction with Donald J. Kessler, released research on the "Kessler Syndrome" which predicted that collisions would continue to increase. This would lead to an exponential growth in debris that would render access to space impossible within several generations. A partial solution to stabilizing the debris population was also proposed which required new missions to incorporate post mission disposal measures, as well as missions dedicated to Active Debris Removal (ADR) by placing the largest objects into decaying orbits of less than 25 years. This proposal addresses how one might succeed in achieving this latter objective.

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