A long-standing guideline for deorbiting satellites within 25 years, criticized by many in the space industry for being too long, is still effective for reducing the growth of orbital debris so long as satellite operators abide by it, according to an orbital debris expert.
The federal government issued updated guidelines Dec. 9 to mitigate the creation of orbital debris, but many in the space safety community were disappointed with the limited scope of the changes.
A U.S.-European satellite that completed its mission earlier this month has been decommissioned but will remain in orbit for as long as 1,000 years, far beyond existing orbital debris mitigation guidelines.
Despite the ongoing debate about the orbital debris risks posed by proposed satellite megaconstellations, one expert believes that an even greater risk comes from clusters of objects already in orbit.
With satellite operators doing a poor job complying with guidelines to deorbit their satellites, incentives or even regulation may be inevitable to address concerns about orbital debris and satellite collisions.
The founder of broadband megaconstellation company OneWeb urged the smallsat industry to operate responsibly in orbit, warning that failed satellites and collisions could result in stifling government regulation.
TriSept Corp., a launch integration and mission management company based in Chantilly, Virginia, announced work Aug. 5 with Rocket Lab and Millennium Space Systems on Dragracer, a mission to demonstrate a way to de-orbit satellites at the conclusion of their missions.
The World Economic Forum has selected a consortium of companies, universities and agencies to develop a system to rate the sustainability of space systems, one that its backers hope will encourage good behavior in space.
The FCC will vote this week to considerproposed changes to orbital debris guidelines that could alter deployment plans for some satellite constellations and shorten the orbital lifetime for experimental satellites.
As the crew of the International Space Station worked Aug. 30 to fix, at least temporarily, a minor air leak, the incident illustrated the growing orbital debris risk to the outpost and strains in American and Russian approaches to ISS operations.
Virgin Orbit plans to offer customers a variety of services including responsive launch, maintenance of large satellite constellations and potentially debris removal.
The European Space Agency is revising its e.Deorbit program to look for synergies between the mission and satellite servicing vehicles.
A United Nations committee reached agreement last week on nine guidelines intended to reduce the risk of collisions in space and other harmful space activities.
Astroscale, a company developing technologies for removing orbital debris, announced Nov. 21 it has awarded a contract to Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) to develop one part of an upcoming demonstration mission.
International cooperation in dealing with the growing problem or orbital debris is essential, a panel of experts argued, but said not to expect a comprehensive accord on the issue for the foreseeable future.