NASA SAFETY STANDARD FOR MINIMIZING ORBITAL DEBRIS
The motivation for this work is the NASA Safety Standard NSS 1740.14
"Guidelines and Assessment Procedures for Limiting Orbital Debris."
The relevant portion of the Standard starts on page 6-3:
General Policy Objective - Postmission Disposal of Space Structures.
The method of interest relevant for this paper is the atmospheric
- Item 6-1: Disposal for final mission orbits passing through LEO:
A spacecraft or upperstage with perigee altitude below 2000 km
in its final orbit will be disposed of by one of three methods.
The NASA standard applies only to NASA spacecraft and even then
only to completely new spacecraft designs. New versions of existing
designs are to make a "best effort" to meet the standard, but
will not be required to change their design to do so. The DoD
has adopted the NASA standard with the same provisos. An Interagency
Group report has recommended that the NASA Safety Standard be
taken as a starting point for a national standard. It is NASA's
recommendation to the Interagency Group that the safety requirement
be phased in only as we reach consensus internationally. This
consensus is being sought through the International Debris Coordination
Working Group, whose members are Russia, China, Japan, ESA, UK,
India, France, Italy, and the US.
- Option a: Leave the structure in an orbit in which, using conservative
projections for solar activity, atmospheric drag will limit the
lifetime to no longer than 25 years after completion of mission.
If drag enhancement devices are to be used to reduce the orbit
lifetime, it should be demonstrated that such devices will significantly
reduce the area-time product of the system or will not cause the
spacecraft or large debris to fragment if a collision occurs while
the system is decaying from orbit.
Thus, although the NASA Safety Standard in its present form is
not the "Law", the existence of the standard means that at some
time in the future a similar requirement may be imposed on all
spacecraft. The Terminator Tether will be a low-cost, low-mass,
low-"area-time-product", reliable, safe means for meeting that