Thursday, October 19, 2006

Orbital debris solution

It's late and the line between good and bad ideas will blur ..

The question is "How can orbital debris be required by international law to de-orbit or move to a graveyard orbit?"

My first thought is to question the assumption of requiring international law to do anything.

The root problem is debris. It's in the way, a hazard. It needs to be minimized or eliminated.

Solution - provide incentives to the owners and operators to do so.

International law is one avenue and it should be pursued.

Another incentive would be for the operators of launch systems to offer discounts to satellite operators who demonstrate they practice debris minimization. They suffer a small profit loss in return for the assurance that the satellite won't cause problems for them later. Enlightened self-interest anyone?

Jasper - your satellite has no delta-v budget. If the launch provider offered to cut your launch cost by 20%, would your program find the budget then? How much would it take? We might make an exception for universities.

Note I am not speaking of a cartel or any action that would be construed as a restraint of trade - merely a basic self-serving convention. The satelllite owners could turn it around as well, arbitrte between launch services.

The question is am I off-base thinking that a launch operator who has a vested interest in reducing orbital debris can use the market to make that happen?
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