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14 September 1998 Power beaming for orbital debris removal
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Proceedings Volume 3343, High-Power Laser Ablation; (1998)
Event: High-Power Laser Ablation, 1998, Santa Fe, NM, United States
Orbital debris in low-Earth orbit ranging in size from 1 to 10 cm in diameter can be detected but not tracked reliably enough to be easily avoided by spacecraft. In addition, shielding protection is extremely difficult and costly to accomplish for sizes above 1 - 2 cm. Debris in this size regime traveling at mean velocities on the order of 20000 miles per hour may cause catastrophic damage. Using adaptive optics technologies, a ground-based pulsed laser of sufficient power ablating the debris particle's surface to produce small momentum changes may, in several hundred pulses, lower a target debris particle's perigee sufficiently for atmospheric capture. A single laser facility could remove all of the 1 - 10 cm debris below 1500 km in altitude in approximately three years. A technology demonstration of ground based laser removal is proposed which would pave the way for the implementation of such a debris removal system. The cost of the proposed demonstration is comparable with the estimated annual cost of spacecraft operations in the present orbital debris environment.
© (1998) 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 "Power beaming for orbital debris removal", Proc. SPIE 3343, High-Power Laser Ablation, (14 September 1998);


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