Contact: Whitney Richter, Director of Marketing and Communications, Office of the Vice Provost for Research, 254-710-7539
WACO, Texas (August 13, 2019) – Through an invitation from the United Nations in Vienna, Rene Laufer, Ph.D., presented an international team of experts' study results on post-mission disposal for small satellites at the 62nd United Nations – Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS) Session. Laufer, associate research professor for the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics & Engineering Research (CASPER) at Baylor University, presented on behalf of UNISEC-Global and the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).
“It’s definitely an honor to be invited to present the results of our space debris mitigation study at the world’s highest forum of space-faring nations,” said Laufer.
The study, entitled A Handbook for Post-Mission Disposal of Satellites Less than 100kg, was initiated two years ago within the IAA in collaboration with UNISEC-Global and space debris and small satellite experts from five continents.
Activities in space are accelerating with a rapid increase in the growing number of countries building and operating satellites. The actual number of satellites being deployed to orbit is increasing even more quickly. Within the last two decades, the number of satellites deployed has been stable around 1,000 but has recently increased to more than 1,500 satellites being launched within a single year. With the increasing number of satellites being launched, the need for the handbook became even more prevalent.
“Orbital debris has been an issue since our first foray into space,” said Truell Hyde, Ph.D., director of CASPER. “With the push to return to the moon and travel to Mars, this has become an even larger problem making this report both timely and important. Rene’s international connections place CASPER at the center of this issue.”
The purpose of the handbook is to “provide guidance to the designers, developers, and operators of these micro satellites (microsatellites) and smaller satellites (i.e., less than 100 kg) deployed to low Earth orbit, LEO (i.e., below 2,000 km altitude).”
When asked about the study, Laufer identified the handbook as “a great small-satellite community effort of top experts from five continents to address concerns regarding space debris mitigation by providing such a post-mission disposal handbook to emerging or inexperienced new actors.”
“The idea of so-called post-mission disposal, making sure the satellite de-orbits and burns up in the atmosphere as quickly as possible after the end of the mission, is to avoid creating space debris and to minimize the time a satellite orbits in space with the probably of collision with other satellites,” said Laufer. “After a satellites mission, most are often nonfunctional and could cause mass destruction to other functioning satellites or even the International Space Station should a collision occur which may result in even more space debris.”
The study, performed and published within 12 months, spearheaded the team’s ability to advocate the results at conferences to target regulators, policy makers, academia, and emerging and developing countries focused on space discovery. With the results of the handbook, Laufer and experts estimate an increased implementation of internationally agreed recommendations and regulations as well as creating best practices in satellite and mission design.
To view the full report, please visit: http://www.iaaweb.org/iaa/Scientific%20Activity/sg423finalreport.pdf
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR ASTROPHYSICS, SPACE PHYSICS AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH (CASPER)
The Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER) is a stand-alone research center located at Baylor University. CASPER teams conduct research in a number of theoretical and experimental areas and offer both basic research as well as engineering and design opportunities for graduate, undergraduate, technical support and high school students as well as grade school, middle school and high school teachers. For more information, visit www.baylor.edu/CASPER.
ABOUT THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PROVOST FOR RESEARCH
The Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) assists faculty members from all academic units in identifying, obtaining and managing the funding needed to support their research and scholarship. Internal 'seed' funding, matching grant proposal funding, searchable online funding databases, grant writing seminars, proposal support and travel awards to national funding agencies are only a portion of what is provided by the various units comprising the OVPR. Additionally, the Vice Provost for Research oversees the ethical conduct of research and assists researchers in maintaining compliance with applicable policies, laws and regulations as well as providing support in establishing interdisciplinary / international collaborations and industry partnerships.
The OVPR acts as Baylor's representative in pursuing partnerships and collaborative agreements with entities outside the university. The office negotiates sponsored research agreements with industry on behalf of faculty and pursues research, technology transfer and the commercialization of technology. The OVPR welcomes the opportunity to discuss collaborative research and scholarship pursuits that can advance the academic mission of Baylor University to achieve R1/T1 status.
The OVPR also manages and operates the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), a three-story, 330,000-square-foot facility focused on interdisciplinary/international research, industry/university collaborations, business incubation/acceleration/commercialization, advanced workforce training and STEM educational research and outreach.