Can debris free space missions become reality in India ?

New Delhi: India intends Debris Free Space Missions (DFSM). This initiative was declared by  Somanath S., Chairman, ISRO/Secretary, DOS during the inaugural opening plenary of the 42nd Annual Meet of Inter-Agency Space Debris Co-ordination Committee (IADC) held at Bengaluru.

“This initiative aims to achieve debris-free space missions by all Indian space actors, governmental and non-governmental by 2030. India also encourages all other state space actors to follow this initiative for the long-term sustainability of Outer Space”

The initiative will be brought to the notice of the international community and other State space actors to encourage them to join this initiative. Department of Space to ensure space missions with Zero Debris (Debris Free Space Missions – DFSM) by all Indian Space actors, governmental and non-governmental by 2030 through meticulous design and execution of important guidelines.

These include taking the necessary steps to

  1. Avoid debris generation during the operational life of satellites and launch vehicles as well as during the post-mission disposal phase
  2. Avoid on-orbit collision and break-up of satellites and launch vehicles through necessary failure mode studies, redundant systems and mission design with high reliability,
  3. Avoid intentional break-ups with long-lived debris
  4. Comply with the Post-mission disposal (PMD) of spent orbital stages and satellites with a success probability of more than 99%. Ensure either controlled re-entry or de-orbiting to a lower orbit with less than 5 years remaining orbital life for rocket bodies and spacecraft at their end of operational life.

This intent also ensures that by 2030 all satellite and launch vehicle missions will be planned and operated taking into account

  1. Special considerations for human spaceflight safety – Considering 400 km +/- 30 km band as the orbital band for human space missions by avoiding minimum orbital transfers in this band by space missions
  2. Ensuring trackability, identifiability, and maneuverability of all satellites throughout the mission phases
  3. Recommending all Spacecraft mission extensions only after critical consideration of system health, safety and system readiness for post-mission disposal
  4. Coordination and data sharing, at National and International levels, for safe and sustainable operations

This intent will ensure the necessary Capacity Building for space object tracking and monitoring and also progress in concerted efforts for Space Debris Research on innovative techniques for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.

The implementation of this DFSM initiative will start by the beginning of 2025 by making efforts at the mission planning and design level for launch vehicle and spacecraft missions by selecting orbital slots considering the collision threats in the orbital bands, fuel budgeting for post-mission disposals, mission trajectory planning with necessary controlled re-entry or de-orbiting and also considering the reliability aspects. Annual progress will be evaluated on the implementation of the DFSM, the ISRO system for safe and sustainable space operations management (IS4OM) will be the nodal point in implementing the DFSM with the support of other entities of the Department of Space.

This initiative supports global efforts for long-term sustainability and places India as one of the space agencies that puts paramount importance on the safety, security and sustainability of outer space activities.

The long-term goal matches with the theme “Join Together for a Safe, Secured and Sustainable Space, Preserve the Common Heritage of Humankind for Future Generations, Space for all & for all generations”


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