Dot Connections | Improved Satellite Collision Prediction for Efficient Space

Helping operators steer satellites from potential collisions in increasingly crowded orbits is an important impetus for improving space traffic management, but when fuel emission detours are not needed. It is also important to know.

Current surveillance and tracking systems cannot accurately locate and orbit vast amounts of objects in near-Earth orbit.

Instead, it depends on the probability of feeding a connection alert sent to the operator. The operator takes action when the risk of collision is high enough.

The frequency of collision avoidance operations performed by low earth orbit (LEO) satellites depends on the size of the satellite, the population at a particular altitude, the accuracy with which the object is currently being tracked, and the operator’s risk threshold.

“Depending on these factors of a particular operator, they can run anywhere from just a few people [collision avoidance] Darren McKnight, Senior Technical Fellow of LeoLabs, a space situational awareness (SSA) provider, said:

According to Stefan Frey, CEO and co-founder of German startup Vyoma, who plans to use satellites to improve SSA measurements, LEO operators today perform an average of two collision avoidance operations per satellite each year. Running

And if the decision was made to move the satellite based on a 0.01% chance of collision, he said, “9 out of 10,000, you can claim that you didn’t really need to maneuver.” I am saying.

Analysts predict that tens of thousands of satellites will be deployed at LEO over the next decade. Vyoma, LeoLabs and others, who are trying to improve the accuracy, reliability and coverage of SSA, say that the proliferation of LEO satellites will increase the number of approach approaches.

The events that cause recent debris are also useless. During the first four months of 2022, debris from Russia’s anti-satellite weapons test in November caused a “statistical collision risk increase of about 50%” with satellites 370-570 kilometers, according to McKnight. rice field”.

LeoLabs extends the network of SSA ground radar to track LEO objects more accurately and frequently. This will improve the accuracy of the calculated collision risk and reduce unnecessary avoidance operations, McKnight said.

“As the space environment expands rapidly, so does the SSA function needed to support its growth,” McKnight said. The legacy government system is not equipped to handle this growth in the long run, he said.

Robert Sprawls, Senior Director of Constellation Planning and Operations at Spire, which operates more than 100 small sats at LEO, said the company averages 12 connections daily from the Space Force’s 18th Space Defense Squadron surveillance unit. I said I would receive a message.

Sprawls does not mention how often Spires fly satellites in response to the threat of a collision, but states that there are three categories of risk classification systems.

•• green If the probability is less than 0.1% and no action is required.

•• yellow If it is 0.1-1% and you need to find out in which direction the alert is trending. If applicable, Spire will contact another operator to initiate the reconciliation procedure, but no action is yet planned.

•• red When the probability of collision exceeds 1% and action is required. This starts with coordinating with other operators, with or without one or both performing the action.

By making the collision probabilities more accurate, Sprawls said operators could save fuel and reduce the size of the satellite’s propulsion capacity from the beginning to reduce the overall cost of the system.

This article was originally published in the June 2022 issue of SpaceNews.

Leave a Comment