Status of the Space Environment: Current Level of Adherence to the Space Debris Mitigation

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S. Frey et al. (2017), JBIS, 70, pp.118-124

Refcode: 2017.70.118
Keywords: Space Debris, Mitigation Guidelines, IADC

To counter an ever increasing number of man-made objects orbiting Earth which are endangering current and future space missions, the Space Debris Mitigation (SDM) guidelines, issued by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), were first published in 2002. These guidelines were a model for various international and national standardisation and regulation activities on SDM. One part of the research conducted at the Space Debris Office at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) is to study and monitor the level of implementation of these guidelines. This report summarises the status of the near Earth space environment by illustrating the number of objects orbiting Earth. The current and historical environment is assessed, with a focus on the interference of the IADC protected regions, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and the Geostationary Orbit (GEO). It includes an estimate of the evolution of the collision risk of payloads and rocket bodies with space debris, computed with ESA's Meteoroid and Space Debris Terrestrial Environment Reference (MASTER) tool. And it illustrates the current level of adherence to the SDM guidelines in terms of end-of-life operations and the release of mission related objects.

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