Lewis, H.G., Swinerd, G.G. and Newland, R.J.
The space debris environment: future evolution.
In, CEAS 2009 European Air and Space Conference, Manchester, GB,
26 - 29 Oct 2009.
Royal Aeronautical Society41pp.
Space debris represents a significant risk to satellite operations, due to the possibility of damaging or catastrophic collisions. Consequently, many satellite operators screen the orbiting population for close approaches with their on-orbit assets and a public conjunction assessment service, Satellite Orbital Conjunction Reports Assessing Threatening Encounters in Space (SOCRATES), generates close approach predictions on a daily basis for all satellite payloads in the catalogue. These screening capabilities are used to inform operational decisions relating to risk mitigation but it is anticipated that the demands placed on these services will increase as debris becomes more prolific. This hypothesis is explored in a preliminary analysis of conjunction data for the years 2004 to 2009 and a new ‘Business As Usual’ study using the Debris Analysis and Monitoring Architecture for the Geosynchronous Environment (DAMAGE) model. The results suggest a 50% increase in the number of close approaches reported by SOCRATES (or its equivalent) within the next ten years. By 2059, daily conjunction reports could contain over 50,000 close approaches below 5 km, affecting the demands placed on tracking facilities and satellite resources.
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