Sensitivity of the Space Debris Environment to Large Constellations and Small Satellites

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H. G. Lewis et al. (2017), JBIS, 70, pp.105-117

Refcode: 2017.70.105
Keywords: Space debris, large satellite constellations

Opportunities provided by small satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) are anticipated to make a significant impact on the space economy through the delivery of important and innovative services. However, with plans by some companies to operate large constellations of small satellites in LEO, and with many small satellite launches forecast in coming decades, there is concern that existing debris mitigation measures will not be sufficient to counteract the impacts of this increased space activity on the LEO environment. Within this context, a team comprising engineers from industry, academia and the European Space Agency have performed an assessment of the potential impact of small satellites and large constellations on the space debris environment. This paper provides an overview of the work undertaken and the results that emerged.

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