Measuring approximately 10 centimeters on a side and weighing around 1 kilogram, cubesats have gained popularity among small companies, universities and emerging countries. As cubesats’ use continues to grow, debris mitigation and avoidance regulations are also becoming progressively restrictive in order to avoid a degradation of space use among space industry operators.
Before founding Astroscale, Nobu Okada worked for Japan’s Ministry of Finance, BainCapital and McKinsey & Co. Now the Space Camp alumnus plans to launch a mission in 2017 to demonstrate technology to clean up orbital debris.
Regarding the recent article on guidelines for the disposal of cubesats [“1 in 5 Cubesats Violates International Orbit Disposal Guidelines”] almost no codes of conduct, guidelines, regulations or laws are stated in a manner that is measurable, verifiable, or enforceable. A guideline is a not a law or regulation. No operator can violate a guideline.
One of every five cubesats launched between 2003 and 2014 is in violation of international guidelines calling for satellites to deorbit – by force of nature or their on-board systems – within 25 years of retirement, NASA sai
The U.S. Air Force has seven aging Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft in orbit that are susceptible to the kind of explosive battery rupture that destroyed the 20-year-old DMSP-F13 in February, producing more than 100 trackable pieces of orbital debris.
The projected increase in the launch of small satellites, particularly cubesats, has raised new concerns about the growth of orbital debris, despite statements by ventures developing such satellites that they will be responsible citizens in low Earth orbit.
NASA’s policy of paying companies to develop technology designed to eliminate orbital debris but not to pay for in-flight demonstrations has space companies searching for new backers.
The French and European space agencies have received no word from the U.S. Air Force in the month since the Feb. 3 debris-producing explosion aboard a military weather satellite in a heavily trafficked orbit but said they hadn’t expected any.
Space debris experts at the European Space Agency said March 4 that they have concluded the explosive breakup of a U.S. Air Force weather satellite last month does not present a threat to nearby ESA spacecraft.
Although the U.S. Air Force hasn’t concluded its investigation of the Feb. 3 incident that caused a 20-year-old military weather satellite to strew debris, experts say the public details are consistent with a catastrophic battery failure.
The recent catastrophic explosion of the DMSP-F13 satellite — which has caused 43 new pieces of space junk — confirms once again that space debris has become one of the highest concerns for the space community.
In April 2004, a 13-year-old Defense Meteorological Satellite Program spacecraft dubbed DMSP-F11 experienced a similarly catastrophic failure that produced 56 pieces of cataloged space debris.
A 20-year-old military weather satellite apparently exploded in orbit Feb. 3 following what the U.S. Air Force described as a sudden temperature spike.
More than 600 dead satellites, spent rocket stages and other debris re-entered Earth’s atmosphere in 2014 — more than 100,000 kilograms of mass that caused no reported casualties or sizable property damage, NASA has told a United Nations conference.
Debris mitigation guidelines — preventing the addition of new debris on orbit — have been embraced by international space users, but analysis has shown that mitigation alone will not ensure the sustainability of the space environment; debris remediation — preventing collisions between massive derelict objects — will also be needed.