Traffic control in space

Traffic lights in space? An Israeli company claims that it has a better solution that can avoid the collision between geostationary satellites.

The system, dubbed ADAMS (Automatic Detection and Avoidance Maneuvering System), will minimize the danger of satellites colliding.

Communications satellites are economic and strategic assets, considered national infrastructure.

Every year more than 25 new satellites are launched worldwide, with an estimated value of $6 billion of direct costs and an additional $160 billion of indirect costs.

The amount of capital involved in this industry has generated a need for insuring space assets.

Meidad Pariente, CEO of  the company behind the new technology, Spaceialist, says that the existing statistical models are not suitable to an environment in which one major fault could have catastrophic implications. “Furthermore, it did not predict collisions in the past like the Iridium-Cosmos collision on February 2009,” he adds.

The Israeli company, in cooperation with the Center for Space Standards and Innovation analysed the short and long term effects of a collision in the geostationary belt.  

The research was based on a scenario in which a resident geostationary satellite with mass of 2,000kg collides with a satellite in Geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) with seven degree inclination and 200km perigee with a mass of 4000kg.

The company says it constructed the orbits and phased the satellites so that the mean orbits would intersect in GEO. 

Pariente says that the research showed that such a collision between two satellites could result in a no-launch period due to uncertainties of debris behavior. This will cause a few severe effects like satellite retiring without replacement and a delay in the launch of new satellites.

Pariente adds that ADAMS’ design is based on maximum assets already installed on a communication satellite and will cost no more than 1% of the total mission cost and could be the “immobilizer” of the space industry.

Tal Inbar, head of the space research center at Fisher Institute for air and space strategic studies, in which the study will be first presented, says that the research is innovative and of great importance to the future space activities worldwide. “The strategic outcomes of such collisions are immense, and the research is only the first phase of a long process needed to overcome these consequences,” says Inbar.







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