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Conceptual Study on Laser Networks for Near‐Term Collision Avoidance for Space Debris in the Low Earth Orbit

Scharring, Stefan and Dreyer, Heiko and Wagner, Gerd and Kästel, Jürgen and Wagner, Paul and Schafer, Ewan and Riede, Wolfgang and Bamann, Christoph and Hugentobler, Urs and Lejba, Pawel and Suchodolski, Tomasz and Döberl, Egon and Weinzinger, Dietmar and Promper, Wolfgang and Flohrer, Tim and Setty, Srinivas and Zayer, Igor and Di Mira, Andrea and Cordelli, Emiliano (2021) Conceptual Study on Laser Networks for Near‐Term Collision Avoidance for Space Debris in the Low Earth Orbit. High Power Laser Ablation, 13.-15. Apr. 2021, virtual.

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Due to the increasing amount of space debris, several laser‐based concepts for orbit modification have been proposed in the recent years. Since the sparse availability of pulsed lasers with high energy (> 10 kJ) seems to render laser‐ablative debris nudging for collision avoidance into a solution only for the long run, alternative options which can be realized earlier are mandatory to counter the rapidly increasing number of space debris in low Earth orbit. In this regard, high‐power CW lasers (> 10 kW) have been proposed in the past for debris nudging by photon pressure. With momentum coupling being 3 – 4 orders of magnitude lower than in the case of laser ablation, this might appear as a poor alternative at first glance, but the opposite is the case when a greater number of laser stations are combined forming an international network for laser tracking and momentum transfer (LTMT). From this viewpoint, we report on our findings on photon momentum transfer to space debris from our work performed under the conceptual study LARAMOTIONS (SSA P3‐SST‐XV) funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) in the framework of ESA’s Space Situational Awareness Program. Commercial availability of high power CW lasers allows for the setup of a network of relatively cost‐efficient laser stations in the next decade. Such an LTMT network would serve for both momentum transfer to space debris as well as for high precision laser tracking as a prerequisite for conjunction alert assessment and high‐power laser beam pointing. Depending on the network size, geographical distribution of stations, orbit parameters and remaining time to conjunction, multi‐pass irradiation enhances the efficiency of photon momentum coupling by 1 – 2 orders of magnitude and has the potential to eventually yield a promisingly significant reduction of the collision rate in low Earth orbit.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/142843/
Document Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Title:Conceptual Study on Laser Networks for Near‐Term Collision Avoidance for Space Debris in the Low Earth Orbit
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Scharring, StefanStefan.Scharring (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Dreyer, HeikoHeiko.Dreyer (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Wagner, GerdGerd.Wagner (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Kästel, JürgenJuergen.Kaestel (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Wagner, PaulPaul.Wagner (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Schafer, EwanEwan.Schafer (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Riede, WolfgangWolfgang.Riede (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Bamann, ChristophFESG TU MünchenUNSPECIFIED
Suchodolski, TomaszCBK PAN BorowiecUNSPECIFIED
Döberl, EgonASA AstrosystemeUNSPECIFIED
Weinzinger, DietmarASA AstrosystemeUNSPECIFIED
Promper, WolfgangASA AstrosystemeUNSPECIFIED
Flohrer, TimTim.Flohrer (at) esa.intUNSPECIFIED
Setty, Srinivassrinivas.setty (at) esa.intUNSPECIFIED
Zayer, Igorigor.zayer (at) esa.intUNSPECIFIED
Di Mira, AndreaAndrea.Di.Mira (at) esa.intUNSPECIFIED
Cordelli, EmilianoEmiliano.Cordelli (at) esa.intUNSPECIFIED
Date:15 April 2021
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:No
Keywords:Space debris, Laser tracking, Laser ranging, Momentum transfer, High power lasers, Photon pressure
Event Title:High Power Laser Ablation
Event Location:virtual
Event Type:international Conference
Event Dates:13.-15. Apr. 2021
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space System Technology
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R SY - Space System Technology
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Project Use of Lasers for the Detection of Space Debris
Location: Stuttgart
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Technical Physics > Active Optical Systems
Institute of Technical Physics > Solid State Lasers and Nonlinear Optics
Deposited By: Scharring, Stefan
Deposited On:12 Jul 2021 13:55
Last Modified:12 Jul 2021 13:55

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