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Space Debris Growing Risk In Low Earth Orbit

Guest Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin

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Guest Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin

Space debris has recently been attracting increasing attention not only due to the growing recognition of the long-term need to protect the commercially valuable low-Earth and geosynchronous orbital zones (LEO and GEO), but also due to the direct threat that existing debris poses to current and future missions. While commercial and scientific uses of space have expanded across a wide range of activities, including telecommunications, weather, navigation, Earth observation and science, space debris has continued to accumulate, significantly threatening current and future missions.


In almost 50 years of space activities, more than 4800 launches have placed some 6000 satellites into orbit, of which only a minor fraction - about 800 - are still operational today. Only 6 percent of the catalogued orbit population are operational spacecraft, while 38 percent can be attributed to decommissioned satellites, spent upper stages and mission-related objects (launch adaptors, lens covers, etc.).





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