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CubeSats Crowding Low Earth Orbit Posing Collision Dangers for Space Users, Warns Expert

CubeSats Crowding Low Earth Orbit Posing Collision Dangers for Space Users, Warns Expert

In the grasp of the Japanese robotic arm, the CubeSat deployer aboard the ISS is about to release a pair of NanoRacks CubeSat miniature satellites. NASA
In the grasp of the Japanese robotic arm, the CubeSat deployer aboard the ISS is about to release a pair of NanoRacks CubeSat miniature satellites. NASA

The increasing number of CubeSats or mini-satellites being launched disregarding guidelines to de-orbit after 25 years is posing a risk to all space users, according to space debris expert Hugh Lewis from the University of Southampton.

Speaking at the 65th Astronautical Congress in Toronto, he noted that CubeSats have been involved in more than 360,000 near-collisions with other orbiting objects. Being small they can be missed by ground radars.

Using a sophisticated computer model called 'Debris Analysis and Monitoring Architecture to the Geosynchronous Environment' (Damage), the team has predicted that CubeSats will be responsible for millions of orbital near-misses, with a handful of these orbital encounters resulting in collisions, by 2043.

CubeSats cannot manoeuvre themselves while orbiting Earth even to avoid collisions. Also, some of the organisations using CubeSats have insufficient plans for de-orbiting their orbital assets.

 

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October 2, 2014


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