Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell'Informazione     
Pardini C., Anselmo L. Characterization of abandoned rocket body families for active removal. In: Acta Astronautica, vol. 126 (September-October 2016) pp. 243 - 257. Elsevier, 2016.
A new ranking index was developed and applied to a wide set of rocket body families, characterized by stage dry masses greater than 500 kg and by the presence of at least 5 stages abandoned in LEO. The upper stages selected accounted for more than 80% of the unclassified rocket bodies in LEO and nearly 95% of the associated dry mass. The detailed results obtained for 657 objects clearly identified the most critical altitude-inclination bands and stage models, to be targeted first if and when a debris remediation strategy including the active removal of intact abandoned objects were deemed necessary. Apart from the evaluation of the criticality regarding the long-term evolution of the debris environment, resulting in a priority listing for optimal active removal, the application of the new ranking index is not limited to debris remediation. In fact, if applied before launch to spacecraft and rocket bodies to be disposed in orbit, at the end of mission, it would provide an additional debris mitigation analysis tool for evaluating competing disposal options. Concerning the rocket bodies abandoned in LEO, 274 resulted to have a criticality equal or larger than the average intact object abandoned in an 800 km sun-synchronous orbit. Among them, 243 belonged to the Russian Federation and Ukraine, 25 to China, 5 to Europe and 1 to Japan. In addition to being concentrated in relatively few and narrow altitude-inclinations bands, the most numerous rocket body families often present a quite uniform distribution in right ascension of the ascending node, which is especially convenient for multiple target removal missions.
URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576516301333
DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2016.04.035
Subject Space debris
Environmental criticality
Ranking index
Active removal
Geopolitical distribution
Abandoned rocket bodies in LEO
70F15 Celestial mechanics

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