The space debris environment and its impacts

  • Fernand Alby
Part of the Studies in Space Policy book series (STUDSPACE, volume 4)


The problemof space debris first arose on 4 October 1957.Onthat date, the Soviet Union placed the very first artificial satellite in orbit around the Earth using a Semyorka rocket. This rocket’s final stage (6500 kg) and protective fairing (100 kg) remained in the same orbit as Sputnik (84 kg), so in fact the ‘functional’ payload was little over a mere 1% of the total mass injected into orbit. Moreover, this 1% operated for just 21 days before re-entering the atmosphere 92 days later: the “functional” 1% of the injected mass had thus been debris for three quarters of its orbital lifetime.


Space Activity International Space Station Space Shuttle Space Debris Current Question 
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    The following references were used for this article: Alby, Fernand. “Implementation of Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines.” Proceedings of the Fifty-sixth International Astronautical Congress, 17–21 Oct. 2005, Fukuoka, Japan. IAC-05-B6.3.08; Alby, Fernand. “SPOT-1 end of life disposition manoeuvres.” Advances in Space Research 35.7 (2005): 1335–1342; Johnson, Nicholas L. “Current characteristics and trends of the tracked satellite population in the human spaceflight regime.” Proceedings of the Fifty-seventh International Astronautical Congress, 2–6 Oct. 2006, Valencia, Spain. IAC-06-B6.1.03.Google Scholar

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  • Fernand Alby

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