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Vol. 255, Issue 1, January 2022, pp. 17-23




Laser Ranging and Nudging in Space Debris Traffic Management

1, * Claude Phipps and 2 Christophe Bonnal

1 Photonic Associates, LLC, 200A Ojo de la Vaca Rd., Santa Fe NM 87501, USA
2 CNES, 52 rue Jacques Hillairet 75612, Paris Cedex, France
1 Tel.: +1-215-358-4360, fax: +1-505-466-3877

E-mail: crphipps@aol.com


Received: 13 December 2021 /Accepted: 17 January 2022 /Published: 31 January 2022



Abstract: The number of satellites in LEO is dramatically increasing, from single objects 60 years ago to a predicted 100,000 in 2030. U.S. companies have requested approval for 58,000 new satellites in the next decade, 42k from SpaceX alone. Each week, 3k LEO objects pass each other closer than 1 km. In 2018, the European CAESAR conjunction assessment system handled 3M conjunction messages leading to only 17 effective maneuvers. The problem is the low precision with which we know the orbits of these objects. Improving that precision by a factor of 100 will reduce the annual number of false collision alarms to an acceptable level. Just-in-time Collision Avoidance (JCA) can prevent anticipated collisions, given improved ephemeris precision. In this paper we show how this can be done with a 100 ps laser ranging network and one or a few laser nudging stations in orbit. We will discuss the components of this system, as well as an eight-year plan for implementation.


Keywords: JCA, ps laser, Laser ranging, Laser nudging, Space debris traffic management.


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