Feasibility analysis of LEO and GEO large space debris de/re-orbiting taking into account launch mass of spacecraft-collector and its configuration layout

Analysis of the efficiency of two basic strategies for de/re-orbiting large space debris objects to disposal orbits (DO) is given. Large objects in LEO are classified into groups with similar orbital inclinations and comprise primarily last stages of launch vehicles, in GEO vicinity the paper studies upper stages. Under the first de/re-orbiting variant, it is assumed a spacecraft-collector is equipped with several thruster de/re-orbiting kits (TDKs); one of them can be fixed on an object and is capable of de/re-orbiting an object to a DO independently of the collector. In the second variant, a collector operates as a space tug: transfers objects to a DO and then returns to the next objects in line. The authors study possible configuration layouts of collectors in LEO and near GEO. The available analogous projects are analyzed. The efficiency of both de/re-orbiting variants can be properly compared using the estimations of collector's dry mass and having at one's disposal the parameters of the maneuvers required for transfers between all objects in the group. As reasonable criteria of effectiveness, one can consider (separately or jointly) the launch mass of an equipped collector, its ΔV budget, and the required number of such active spacecraft. Two de/re-orbiting variants are compared in terms of these criteria via mass-energy diagrams constructed for each group of objects in both altitude regions. Analysis of these diagrams shows that low Earth orbits can be more efficiently cleaned under the first de-orbiting variant by using a two-stage space system consisting of an active spacecraft carrying TDKs. For GEO, it is expedient to choose the second re-orbiting variant using a single-stage spacecraft. Our analysis shows that LEO cleaning is an order of magnitude more expensive than that for GEO, hence the problem of LEO population should be given increased attention. © 2020 COSPAR

Baranov A.A. 1, 3 , Grishko D.A.2 , Shcheglov G.A.2 , Sholmin A.S.2 , Stognii M.V.2 , Kamenev N.D.2
Elsevier Ltd
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  • 1 Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • 2 Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • 3 Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University), Moscow, Russian Federation
Ключевые слова
Active debris removal; De/re-orbiting concept; Disposal orbit; Mass-energy diagrams; SC-collector; Thruster de/re-orbiting kit (TDK)
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