Space Safety and Sustainability Project Group
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The Space Safety and Sustainability Group has completed numerous volunteer-run projects in the past few years. Click on the links below to find out more:
- Active Debris Removal (ADR) Technical Project
- OHM (One-way Human mission to Mars)
- NPSS (Nuclear Powered Spacecraft Safety)
- Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines for the Small-Satellite Industry
- ADR Priority Objects
- ADR Policy
- Orbital Debris Management Project (ADR Vortex)
- ADR Mapping
- SSA Policy
- Space Weather
During the past few years, several research programs have assessed the current state and future evolution of the Low Earth Orbit region highlighting the urgency for active debris removal (ADR). An Active Debris Removal System should be capable of approaching the selected debris object through a close-range rendezvous, establishing physical contact, stabilizing its attitude and finally de-orbiting the debris object using a type of propulsion system in a controlled manoeuvre.
In this long running project (now in its third year), a novel method was proposed based on modifying a launch vehicle upper stage for the removal of large rocket bodies from polar orbit. The project focused on assessing the feasibility of such a method by analyzing propulsive requirements, technological feasibility and reentry safety. The groups investigated different methods of approach and de-orbiting (chemical, chemical-EDT) using Analytical Graphics Inc. Systems Tool Kit (STK) and ESA software DRAMA.
The natural step forward for the study of the technical aspects of such missions is an analysis of the problem of Attitude Dynamics of Uncooperative Targets and the review of systems and techniques for stabilizing and grabbing spent spacecraft and larger debris. Starting from a review of the concepts for the disposal of Space Debris by means of in-orbit grabbing systems, the problem of Attitude Dynamics of Uncooperative Targets will be studied and the most interesting solutions will be assessed through analytical evaluations and simulations. The final aim is to identify the best approaches characterized by lower complexity and more efficient propellant budget.
Andrea Turconi - Daniele Emanuele Chiuri - Siddharth Raval - Nourhane Nader - Alaa Hussein - S. Ali Nasseri (Team Lead) - Matteo Emmanuelli (Team Lead) - Joao Lousada - Emmanuelle David - Christopher Becker - Vitali Braun - Scott Fisher - Antariksh Dicholkar - Ekaterina Rezugina
S. A. Nasseri, M. Emanuelli, S. Fisher, S. Raval, J. Lousada, A. Turconi, E. David, V. Braun, “Design of an Active Space Debris Removal Mission Using Modified Launch Vehicle Upper Stages”, International Astronautical Congress 2013, Beijing (and Tsinghua University IAF-SUAC International Student Workshop 2013)
S. A. Nasseri, M. Emanuelli, S. Raval, A. Turconi, “Active Space Debris Removal using Modified Launch Vehicle Upper Stages Equipped with Electrodynamic Tethers”, 6th IAASS conference, May 2013
S. A. Nasseri, M. Emanuelli , S. Raval, A. Turconi, C. Becker, “Active Space Debris Removal using European Modified Launch Vehicle Upper Stages equipped with Electrodynamic Tethers”, 6th European Conference on Space Debris, April 2013
M. Emanuelli, S. Raval, S. A. Nasseri, A. Turconi, C. Nwosa, “Design and Evaluation of Active Debris Removal Mission with chemical propulsion and electrodynamic tether”, 2012 Beijing Space Sustainability Conference, November 2012
M. Emanuelli, S. A. Nasseri , S. Raval, A. Turconi, C. Nwosa, “Design and Evaluation of an Active Debris Removal Mission with Chemical and Electrodynamic Tether Propulsion”, VΙΙΙ International Science and Technology Conference for the 70th anniversary of OmSTU, November 2012 (Invited paper)
Daniele Emanuele Chiuri, Andrea Turconi, Alaa Hussein, Nourhane Nader, Siddharth Raval, Matteo Emanuelli, Seyed Ali Nasseri, “Active Debris Removal: Overview and Figures of Merit of Debris Grabbing Strategies”, International Astronautical Congress 2015, Jerusalem, October 2015.
S. A. Nasseri, M. Emanuelli, S. Raval, J. Lousada, A. Turconi, P. Maier, E. David, V. Braun, C. Becker, S. Fisher, “Design of an Active Space Debris Removal Mission Using Modified Launch Vehicle Upper Stages”, International Astronautical Congress 2013, Beijing
M. Emanuelli , S. A. Nasseri, S. Raval, A. Turconi, C. Becker, “Active Space Debris Removal using European Modified Launch Vehicle Upper Stages equipped with Electrodynamic Tethers”, 6th European Conference on Space Debris, April 2013
Recently there has been an increasing amount of discussion regarding the idea of a one-way mission to Mars. The goal of OHM project is to investigate all the existing hazards, identify possible measurements for controlling those hazards (where possible) and eventually have a conclusion where it will be possible to say whether this type of mission, from a safety point of view, is feasible.
The project is divided according to its three mission phases:
- Earth vicinity: this includes launch and the eventual assembly/rendez-vous in Earth-orbit.
- Earth - Mars journey: it should consider different orbits, journey times, radiation protection available, etc. as well as Mars landing
- Mars: it includes everything after the landing is complete, should consider such things as habitats, resources (expendables), radiation, etc.
Joao Lousada (Team Lead) - Hamed Gamal Hamed Ali - Rajendrasing Uttamsing Rajput - Ahmed Atef Hamada - Joshua Loughman - Vaibhav Mallikarjuna - Charlotte Kiang - Safoura Tanbakouei - Pierre Bertrand - Joseph Mulholland - Gustavo Enrique Gonzalez Moreno - Andrew Malcom
Joao Lousada, Rajendrasing Rajput, Hamed Gamal, Charlotte Kiang, Guzel Kamaletdinova, Joshua Loughman, Pierre Bertrand, Seyed Ali Nasseri, Matteo Emanuelli, "Technical Safety Analysis of a One-Way Human to Mars Mission", International Astronautical Congress 2015, Jerusalem, October 2015.
This project will analyse the different types of nuclear power systems that could be used to power a future mission, and what hazards are associated with their use. Particular attention will be given to nuclear powered spacecraft during operations in the vicinity of Earth, particularly launch, Earth orbit operations and end-of-life disposal. Consideration will also be given to the impact that any faults could have on the space environment when the spacecraft is not in the vicinity of Earth.
This project will draw upon work previously carried out by the OHM project team, namely the United Nations (UN) report “National Research on Space Debris, Safety of Space Objects with Nuclear Power Sources on Board and Problems of their Collision with Space Debris”. This report discussed the safety issues associated with nuclear-powered spacecraft and the interaction with space debris; however, it is recognised that there is also a need to further study the safety implications specific to nuclear-powered spacecraft. Accordingly, it is proposed that the three different scenarios considered will be analysed.
The anticipated output of the proposed report will be a set of recommendations/guidelines that recognises the safety issues associated with nuclear-powered spacecraft and provides means towards addressing these issues.
Joao Lousada (Team Lead) - Hamed Gamal Hamed Ali - Rajendrasing Uttamsing Rajput - Ahmed Atef Hamada - Vaibhav Mallikarjuna - Shannon Ryan - Vanessa Clark - Peter Bertrand - Gustavo Enrique Gonzalez Moreno
Joao Lousada, Andrew Malcolm, Hamed Gamal, Rajendrasing Rajput, Matteo Emanuelli, Ali Nasseri, “National Research on Space Debris, Safety of Space Objects with Nuclear Power Sources on Board and Problems of their Collision with Space Debris”, Prepared for the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs for the fifty-second session of its Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN COPOUS, October 2014. (Available online A/AC.105/C.1/2015/CRP.8 and A/AC.105/C.1/109).
With the rapid development of the small-satellite industry, driven by the success of Commercial-Off- The-Shelf (COTS) components in space, the economics of space utilization have changed tremendously over the past two decades. Small-satellite missions offer the advantage of shorter development time, and reduced manpower and infrastructure requirements over their larger counterparts. Consequently, new space companies, focused on leveraging the opportunity presented by small-satellites, have emerged across the globe. The expected explosion of small-satellite launches in the coming decade necessitates a careful assessment of the technical solutions and policies in place to ensure safe EOL disposal. Companies such as SpaceX, WorldVu and Planet Labs, have announced plans to launch hundreds of small satellites in the coming years. We analyse the potential challenges this generates in terms of current EOL technology and space policy.
In light of these developments, this project provides a concrete set of recommendations to complement current Inter- Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) guidelines. We analyze the applicability of the “25-year” rule to the small-satellite industry and provide a set of tangible directives to mitigate future threat to operational satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) and the International Space Station (ISS).
Narayan Prasad Nagendra (Team Lead) - Kartik Kumar (Team Lead) - Laura Bettiol - Giulia Federico - Olugbenga Ogunmodimu - Ali Alizadeh
Narayan Prasad Nagendra, Kartik Kumar, Laura Bettiol, Giulia Federico, Ali Alizadeh, Olugbenga Ogunmodimu, Shila Shojaee, Matteo Emanuelli, Seyed Ali Nasseri, "An analysis of the applicability of space debris mitigation guidelines to the commercial small-satellite industry", International Astronautical Congress 2015, Jerusalem, October 2015.
The project has identified the high risk space objects based on deterministic data from daily satellite conjunction alerts received in 2012 and reported by the Center for Space Standards & Innovation (CSSI) through the Satellite Orbital Conjunction Reports Assessing Threatening Encounters in Space (SOCRATES). The identified objects would serve as preferred priority targets for future ADR missions. Moreover, based on the analysis of the available information, the orbital regions where the risk of collision is highest were also deduced. The analysis was carried out based on the collision probability calculated just before the predicted conjunction, combined with other significant parameters like mass and relative velocity at closest conjunction. The results provide an accurate representation of the high risk objects and regions in space, thereby giving an indication of the implications of these identified dangerous conjunctions for the long-term sustainability of the space environment.
Matteo Emanuelli (Team Lead) - Christoph Becker - Leila Ghasemzadeh
M. Emanuelli, C. Becker, L. Ghasemzadeh, “Priority Target for Active Debris Removal Mission”, International Astronautical Congress 2013, Beijing
Despite the many unanswered legal, political, and economic questions surrounding active debris removal (ADR), it is an endeavor worth pursuing if we are to continue relying on space activities for a variety of critical daily needs and services. This project aims to explore some of these challenges and propose an economically, politically, and legally viable ADR option. Much like waste management on Earth, cleaning up space junk will likely lie somewhere between a public good and a private sector service. An international, cooperative, public-private partnership concept can address many of these issues and be economically sustainable, while also driving the creation of a proper set of regulations, standards and best practices.
Deva Prasad - Giulia Federico - Joshua Loughman - Matteo Emanuelli - Tiffany Chow - Philipp Maier - Minoo Rathnasabapathy - Zhuoyan Lu
P. Maier, M. Rathnasabapathy, Z. Lu “Active Debris Removal: A Multinational Policy Option”, International Astronautical Congress 2012, Naples
Orbital debris poses a growing danger to international space assets at a wide range of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) altitudes. Current technology limits tracking and de orbiting of all threatening material. Furthermore, collection satellites are fail-deadly, producing exponentially more debris material in a failure scenario. An alternative solution is to drive atmosphere toward LEO altitudes, increasing local air density and inducing drag on orbital debris. Initial computational studies at the University of Michigan suggest this concept is plausible. A cost-effective reduction to practice may require the use of a vortex ring generator to reduce drag upon propelled fluid during ascent. This study will explore how air vortex rings propagate and their use as a drag inducing mechanism for orbital debris management.
Matthew A. Noyes - Peetak Mitra
M. A. Noyes, P. Mitra “Propagation of Surface-To-LEO Vortex Rings for Orbital Debris Management” 6th IAASS Conference
Space debris discussions initiated with the start of the space age 55 years ago and have seen special interest in current years. This is due to the large increase in the number of space debris which has led to an increased threat of collision with operational space systems and of unsafe reentry.
Due to this increased interest in this area, many different methods have been proposed in recent years for mitigation and space debris removal, some of which have even secured funding from space agencies for further development. These include ground based lasers and space based systems which use electro-dynamic tethers, solar sails or inflatable components. While each method has its own pros and cons, some
of these concepts seem to be more suitable for the short term and others for the long term.
This projects aims to identify major performance measures for space debris removal systems based on current rules and regulations and maps the performance of the ADR technologies based on these criteria. The map can help prioritize removal concepts and required technologies in order to better meet current needs.
S. Ali Nasseri (Team Lead) - Alaa Adnan Hussein - Ciro Borriello - Fatoumata Kebe - Joshua Loughman - Lauren Napier - Rafael Ortiz Aguilera
S. Ali Nasseri, Ciro Borriello, Alaa Hussein, Fatoumata Kebe “Performance Mapping of Space Debris Removal Concepts” (Poster), International Astronautical Congress 2014, Toronto.
In order to fully comprehend the extent of the space debris issue, help avoid collisions, and to eventually manage Active Debris Removal, a comprehensive Space Situational Awareness (SSA) network is required. Such networks already exist; the largest of these, however, belong to the United States and Russia and are run unilaterally and as part of defense networks. Thus the sharing of information obtained via these networks becomes difficult as it risks revealing strategic capabilities. Alternative means must be found in order to encourage the sharing of SSA data. One possible approach is the creation of a neutral international organization and network that exists solely to facilitate the collection and sharing of SSA data. The proposed network would utilize the capabilities of already existing SSA infrastructure that are not restricted by being part of a defensive network.
Michael Kretzenbacher - Minoo Rathnasabapathy - Tiffany Chow - Guzel Kamaletdinova
M. Kretzenbacher, M. Rathnasabapathy, T. Chow, G. Kamaletdinova “Novel Approaches To International Cooperation And Data Sharing For SSA”, International Astronautical Congress 2012, Naples
The sun is the driver of life here on earth, in the same way it affects everything in our solar system. Its interaction with the solar system is through various events that originate from it like coronal mass ejections, solar flares, solar proton events and prominences. Space assets are not spared from these events and their effects can be quite expensive to correct or manage.
For decades, it has been known that solar-induced changes in the space environment can affect the performance and reliability of space-based and ground-based technological systems.
The proposed project aims to look at the existing systems of predicting solar events, how the predictions can assist space asset owners to safeguard assets and thereby reduce the cost of solar event effects.
Antariksh Dicholkar - Erinfolami Funmilayo - Nourhane Nader Ilji jang - Peetak Mitra - Olugbenga Ogunmodimu