TRANSACTIONS OF THE JAPAN SOCIETY FOR AERONAUTICAL AND SPACE SCIENCES, AEROSPACE TECHNOLOGY JAPAN
Online ISSN : 1884-0485
ISSN-L : 1884-0485
Risk Assessment of a Large Constellation of Satellites in Low-Earth Orbit
Yuri MATSUSHITAYasuhiro YOSHIMURAToshiya HANADAYuki ITAYATadanori FUKUSHIMA
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2022 Volume 20 Pages 10-15

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Abstract

This paper aims to assess the risk of mission termination for a large constellation of satellites in a low-Earth orbit. Many large constellations will be deployed to provide broadband network services using thousands of satellites. There is concern that such large constellations will have a serious impact on the long-term sustainability of outer space activities due to the rapid increase in population. First, therefore, the authors conducted an assessment under nominal activities (referred to as “business-as-usual”) on the basis of a prediction by ESA’s MASTER-2009 and NASA standard breakup model 2001 revision. The assessment found that nearly one catastrophic collision may happen in a large constellation, generating more than two million fragments as small as 1 mm in size. Second, the authors conducted a further assessment assuming a hypothetical collision of a satellite in a large constellation using the NASA standard breakup model and a spherical finite element model adopted in ESA’s MASTER-2009. In consequence, another catastrophic collision may happen to a large constellation, generating approximately a half-million fragments as small as 1 mm in size. Therefore, such catastrophic collisions and resulting secondary collisions should be prevented for large constellations.

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