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17 October 1997 Project Orion: results of a feasibility study on removing orbital debris using ground-based lasers and sensors
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Abstract
Recent advances in adaptive optics support the feasibility of orbital debris removal by laser photoablation impulse, with laser and tracking systems located on the Earth. An in-depth systems analysis shows that individual laser pulses are most effective in lowering perigee and reducing lifetime at a zenith angle of about 40 degrees when the target is approaching the laser. Many pulses are needed to remove debris, and it is important to begin the engagement at the largest zenith angle permitted by tracking and adaptive optics. The 1-10 cm orbital debris hazard will require damage control equipment and procedures as well as on-orbit addition of shielding to the International Space Station. The current risk to satellites in low Earth-orbit is estimated to be $10-100 million per year in replacement costs. These factors suggest an international laser orbital debris removal system could be cost-effective. A demonstration in which radar and optical tracking together with adaptive optics are used to concentrate a laser on a calibrated target in orbit is the next required step in proving the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of such a system.
© (1997) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Jonathan W. Campbell and Charles R. Taylor "Project Orion: results of a feasibility study on removing orbital debris using ground-based lasers and sensors", Proc. SPIE 3126, Adaptive Optics and Applications, (17 October 1997); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.290176
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