NASA: Large satellite constellations will add to debris problem unless they go beyond regulatory requirements

by Peter B. de Selding

PARIS — Large constellations of satellites in low Earth orbit are likely to cause a substantial increase in orbital debris unless they are designed to unusually exacting reliability standards and carry built-in protections against being hit by micrometeoroids or small pieces of orbital debris, NASA has concluded.

The risk remains even if all the constellation operators do their best to de-orbit their satellites on retirement, which means leaving reserve fuel to carry them to lower altitude, from where they will reenter the atmosphere within 25 years.

The study . . .

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