DATAWorks 2022 DebProp Orbital Debris Collision Effects Prediction Tool for Satellite Constellations

April, 2022
IDA document: D-32942
FFRDC: Systems and Analyses Center
Type: Documents
Division: Operational Evaluation Division
Joel E. Williamsen, James F. Heagy, Daniel L. Pechkis, Steven W. Evans, Robert F. Stellingwerf See more authors
Based on observations gathered from the IDA Forum on Orbital Debris (OD) Risks and Challenges on Oct. 8 and 9, 2020, DOT&E needed first order predictive tools to evaluate the effects of orbital debris on mission risk, catastrophic collision and collateral damage to DOD spacecraft and other orbital assets – either from unintentional or intentional anti-satellite collisions. This lack of modeling capability hindered the ability of DOT&E to evaluate the risk to operational effectiveness and survivability of individual satellites and large constellations as well as risks to the overall use of space assets in the future. This presentation describes an IDA-derived Excel-based tool (SatPen) for determining the probability and mission effects of >1mm orbital debris impacts and penetration on individual satellites in low Earth orbit. Using a Starlink-like satellite as a case study and NASA’s ORDEM 3.1 orbital debris environment as an input, supplemented with typical damage prediction equations to support mission loss predictions, IDA estimated the likelihood of satellite mission loss. By pairing this technique with DebProp (another IDA tool described at this forum for evaluating the debris-propagating effects of large, trackable debris or antisatellite weapons colliding with satellites within constellations), IDA can predict additional, short-term OD-induced losses to other satellites in the constellation and conduct long-term debris growth studies.