Prediction, Protection & Reduction of OrbiTal Exposure to Collision Threats

The P2-ROTECT Project was a 2.5-year R&D project aiming at providing the space community with solutions to better deal with debris in space for spacecraft protection.

In order to provide adequate solutions to the space debris problem, two cases were considered depending on whether space debris is routinely tracked/catalogued or not.

In the first case, pieces of space debris are large enough to be routinely tracked by sensors and thus are catalogued. They correspond to objects whose typical sizes are above 10 cm in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) and up to 50-100 cm in GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit) and their number is estimated to be around 14,000. Collision with such debris is most often catastrophic for a spacecraft but, on the other hand, it is also predictable.

The enhancement of space debris catalogues (lowering size and increasing accuracy), the enhancement of prediction reliability and the removal of risky debris can be seen as development of mitigation measures.

In the second case, where space debris pieces are not tracked, their number is not exactly known but corresponds to approximately some billions and collision cannot be predicted.

The only way to reduce vulnerability is to reduce the effect of debris collision via new satellite designs and even new mission designs.