On the Increased Risk of Kessler Syndrome by Anti-Satellite Tests

October, 2023
IDA document: 3000896
FFRDC: Systems and Analyses Center
Type: Documents , Space
Division: System Evaluation Division , Science, Systems and Sustainment Division
Cameron J. Liang, Paul E. Fanto, Angelo J. Signoracci See more authors
The militarization of outer space and development of counterspace technologies is a growing concern, especially as commercial and governmental entities are sending thousands of satellites into orbit. This work uses a recent IDA-developed statistical framework to show how direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) missile tests and weapons can dramatically increase the probability of runaway debris growth in space, putting the sustainability of space at risk. ASAT tests generate additional debris that can kick-start runaway collisions and lead to an exponential growth of debris known as the Kessler Syndrome, which can render space inoperable.