Publication details

Kessler Syndrome : System Dynamics Model



Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Space Policy
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web článek
Keywords System dynamics; Kessler syndrome; Satellites; Orbital debris; Antisatellite weapons; Debris evolutionary model
Attached files
Description The present article explores the Kessler syndrome (the potentially catastrophic accumulation of debris in the low-earth orbit) through system dynamics methodology. It models satellites and three classes of debris, their fragmentation, interactions, and gradual decay over 50 years. It presents 5 scenarios: (a) a “business as usual” approach, which leads to exponential accumulation and growing rate of satellite losses, but no catastrophic chain reaction; (b) a conflict with a large-scale deployment of antisatellite weapons, leading to an accelerated accumulation and losses, but still no chain reaction; (c) electromagnetic pulse scenario modeling loss of control over satellites en masse; (d) cessation of all low earth orbit (LEO) satellite launches, illustrating high inertia of the system, which continues to produce more debris; and (e) scenario representing an attempt to mitigate the situation via direct removal of some portion of inactive satellites from the LEO. All scenarios take place in 2040. The article demonstrates the gravity of the situation and the necessity for a sustainable long-term solution, as orbital debris poses a threat to our future space operation even without triggering a catastrophic chain reaction.
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