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Space Debris Solutions - Revisited
by Staff Writers for LaunceSpace
Bethesda MD (SPX) Jul 11, 2016

File image.

The topic of "space debris" continues to be covered in the technical and popular media. Several articles report that a solution is just beyond the horizon. As concern within the space community increases, would-be inventors and entrepreneurs are claiming significant advances in sensing and tracking smaller and smaller debris objects with the implication that a solution is close at hand. It appears that much of what we see in the media represents fantasies propagated by uniformed opportunists.

As with most national and international mandates for solutions, government officials have increased the volume with promises of attacking the problem and making it safe again to dream of clear skies and open space. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are international debris commissions and committees studying potential mitigation and remediation solutions. Many industrial organizations are pursuing federal support for new technologies and systems that will mitigate debris impacts. Even a few sovereign nations have made recent promises of building removal systems for eliminating debris.

The naked truth is that we have no way to economically remove any significant amount of debris. We do not have the technology to build the needed systems. And, the current political and legal environment prohibits any realistic effort to clean up space.

The unresolved issues go on and on. No significant debris removal programs exist and no appropriate funding has been allocated by any government or international body. The simple fact is the future of space flight is adrift toward a "black hole."

Any solution is going to be painful in terms of investments, political negotiations and multinational commitments. In fact, we are simply at the beginning of a multi-decade effort to resolve the issues and evolve the technologies that will lead to a solution, hopefully before the "gates to space" close.

One manifestation of that beginning is the Center for Orbital Debris Education and Research (CODER) at the University of Maryland, (www.coder.umd.edu) established to address significant issues related to orbital debris.

These include technology and systems, space policy, economics, legal, and sociological issues. A long-term goal is the development of policies, laws and space systems that will lead to the efficient remediation and control of space environmental pollutants.

The center is building an international collaborative effort to tackle the issues. One of its important activities is the sharing of knowledge and findings with the international space community.

The primary vehicle for achieving this dissemination goal is the CODER-sponsored biennial Workshop on Orbital Debris Education and Research (www.coder.umd.edu/coder2016). This popular knowledge-sharing and networking event will be held on November 15-17, 2016 in College Park, MD.

Everyone affected by the evolving orbital debris threat should plan to attend. Mark your calendars and be sure to attend in order to get the truth about debris issues and possible solution paths.

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Related Links
Center for Orbital Debris Education and Research
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Previous Report
OrbitOutlook integrates diverse network to help avoid collisions in space
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 03, 2016
More than 500,000 pieces of manmade space debris-including spent rocket stages, defunct satellites, and fragments as small as flecks of paint-currently hurtle around the Earth at roughly 17,000 miles per hour. At those speeds, impacts involving even the smallest of those items can damage satellites and spawn chain reactions of collisions, increasing the amount of orbital flotsam and creating "mi ... read more

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