Cleaning up space debris standards

The new edition of NASA's Orbital Debris Quarterly News (Oct. 2007) is chock full of space trash insights and developments, mostly from a technical perspective. Space junk junkies, dig in.

On the policy side, the report includes an overview of the two changes issued in August by the space agency to update its own requirements and standards for mitigating orbital debris.

And I don't mind sharing that overview here on squeaky clean SLP:

New NASA Procedural Requirement and Technical Standard for Limiting Orbital Debris Generation

On 17 August 2007, NASA’s Chief Safety and Mission Assurance Officer, Bryan O’Connor, signed
NASA Procedural Requirements(NPR)8715.6, the latest revision in NASA’s 15-year-old policy designed to curtail the growth of the orbital debris population. On 28 August 2007, the NASA Technical Standard (NS) 8719.14 was also signed by Bryan O’Connor, updating the aging NASA Safety Standard 1740.14, Guidelines and Assessment Procedures for Limiting Orbital Debris, issued in 1995.

NPR 8715.6 recognizes the ongoing importance of orbital debris mitigation, both nationally and internationally, and a need to expand the responsibilities of various organizations within NASA. Fourteen organizations or positions within NASA are now assigned explicit orbital debris mitigation duties by the NPR, in contrast to only ten organizations or positions cited in the previous NASA Policy Directive (NPD 8710.3B), and only four in the policy before that one.

The NPR provides requirements to implement NASA’s policy for limiting orbital debris generation per the
U.S. National Space Policy of 2006, Section 11. In conjunction with the related NASA standard, the NPR is consistent with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines, as well as Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines.

As outlined in section 1.3.11 of the NPR, the
NASA Orbital Debris Program Office shall:
1. Develop, maintain, and update the orbital debris environment models to support this NPR.
2. Assist NASA mission program/project managers in technical orbital debris assessments.
3. Provide assistance to the Department of Defense and other U.S. Government departments and organizations on matters related to the characterization of the orbital debris environment and the application of orbital debris mitigation measures and policies for NASA space missions.
4. Participate in the determination, adoption, and use of international orbital debris mitigation guidelines through international forums such as the UNCOPUOS, the IADC, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
5. Maintain a list of predicted reentry dates for NASA spacecraft and their associated orbital stages and notify the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance at least 60 days prior to their reentry.
Approved by NASA Headquarters and NASA Centers, NS 8719.14 provides uniform engineering and technical requirements for processes, procedures, practices, and methods for NASA programs and projects to adhere to orbital debris requirements.

NS 8719.14 requires NASA projects to assess compliance in the following areas:
1. Debris Released During Normal Operations
2. Debris Released by Explosions and Intentional Breakups
3. Debris Generated by On-Orbit Collisions
4. Postmission Disposal of Space Structures
5. Survival of Debris from the Postmission Disposal Atmospheric Reentry Option
6. Tether Missions

The Standard reflects significant improvements in both the technical foundation of the standard and assessment process, as well as addressing new areas of debris mitigation, such as tethers, the Moon, Mars, and Lagrange points. Where appropriate, minor changes were incorporated to ensure that the Standard is consistent with the latest national and international orbital debris mitigation guidelines.

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