Space Traffic Management: The Challenges of Large Constellations and Orbital Debris

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Technological advances and new commercial entrants are lowering the costs to put spacecraft on orbit and increasing launch opportunities, setting the stage for orbits above Earth to become significantly more crowded in the coming decade. Not only will there be more spacecraft in the skies above, particularly as proposed mega-constellation architectures take shape, but they’ll be operated by an increasingly complex mix of government operators and commercial entities.  

Progress has been made around orbital debris mitigation standards, but more work will need to be done to establish space traffic management rules and responsibilities that ensure the skies above remain accessible and safe for space operations. 

The authors of this paper discuss this topic on the Center for Space Policy and Strategy's #TheSpacePolicyShow episode 40 "Space Agenda 2021 Showcase". Watch the full episode.

Authors: Marlon Sorge, Bill Ailor, Ted Muelhaupt