Owners of many LEO satellites that were retired in 2020 violated 25-year deorbit guideline

by Peter B. de Selding

PARIS — Forty percent of satellites in low Earth orbit in 2020 that had to perform a deorbit maneuver to comply with end-of-life clearance recommendations did nothing, according to the European Space Agency’s latest Space Environment Report.

The figure is part of a generally improving trend when measured in pure percentage terms. But with ever-greater numbers of satellites launching to LEO, even that piece of good news evaporates.

Better news is found when the picture is widened to include satellites whose orbit . . .

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