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Unformatted text preview: ! ! "#$%& (&)*#++ ,) % )#-.&* /#%0 $0%*1%2# )21*#&2 ,& 23# "%)2#0 ,& 4&2#0&%2,.&%+ 5-,6 #&-# %&* 7#-3&.+.$/ 8.+,-/ 90.$0%: %2 23# ;#.0$# <%)3,&$2.& =&,>#0),2/?) @++,.22 5-3..+ .A 4&2#0&%2,.&%+ (AA%,0)B C3#0# )3# A.-1)#) .& )9%-# 9.+,-/D 53# -%& E# 0#%-3#* %2 :#$%&D%&)*#++F$:%,+D-.:D ! "#$%& ( )!"& * &+,$( , &-.%!/ 1 &&*( 2 $-)/$"!#$.1( 2 !1* , &".--&1*!#$.1( 3., # .*!4 5 ( 6 &.)./$#$"!/ & 1%$,.1-&1# "#$%& (&)*#++ Space debris increasingly threatens the provision of satellite services that have become integrated into the operations of the global economy and U.S. military, such as GPS precision timing and navigation. While studies suggest that annually removing as few as five massive pieces of debris in critical orbits could significantly stabilize the space debris environment, countries have hesitated to develop space debris removal systems due to high costs and classic free rider problems. This paper argues that the United States should take the lead in immediately developing systems to remove space debris with the greatest potential to contribute to future collisions. Although leading by example will entail certain costs and risks, U.S. leadership in preserving the near-Earth space environment will result in not only long-term benefits for the United States, but also the fulfillment of U.S. national space policy and broader U.S. foreign policy objectives. G !" ! $%&’()*%!’$ There are currently hundreds of millions of space debris fragments orbiting the Earth at speeds of up to several kilometers per second. Although the majority of these fragments result from the space activities of only three countries—China, Russia, and the United States—the indiscriminate nature of orbital mechanics means that they pose a continuous threat to all assets in Earth’s orbit. There are now roughly 300,000 pieces of space debris large enough to completely destroy operating satellites upon impact (Wright 2007, 36; Johnson 2009a, 1). It is likely that space debris will become a significant problem within the next several decades. Predictive studies show that if humans do not take action to control the space debris population, an increasing number of unintentional collisions between orbiting objects will lead to the runaway growth of space debris in Earth’s orbit (Liou and Johnson 2006). This un- controlled growth of space debris threatens the ability of satellites to deliver the services humanity has come to rely on in its day-to-day activities. For example, Global Positioning System (GPS) precision timing and naviga- tion signals are a significant component of the modern global economy; a GPS failure could disrupt emergency response services, cripple global banking systems, and interrupt electric power grids (Logsdon 2001)....
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- Fall '11
- space debris, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, debris removal, space debris removal