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International Space Station as an observation platform for hypersonic re-entry of its visiting vehicles

Bacon, Jack1
Affiliation data not available1

Document details

Publishing year2001 PublisherESA Publishing typeConference Name of conference3rd European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
H. Lacoste


The International Space Station (ISS) will receive an armada of visiting supply vehicles during its life in orbit. Over 500 tons of material will be destroyed in targeted re-entries of these vehicles. Because all such re-entries lie in the same orbital plane of the station, and because the visiting vehicles typically deorbit within a few hours of departure, the ISS will usually be within sight of the re-entry process, at a range of only 300-600 kilometers. This vantage point offers an unprecedented opportunity for systematically measuring hypersonic destructive processes. This paper examines the integrated operational constraints of the ISS, its supply vehicles, and candidate sensors which can be employed in the scientific observation of the re-entry process. It is asserted the ISS program has the potential to reduce the worldwide risks from future deorbiting spacecraft, through systematic experimental characterization of the factors which affect the rupture, debris survival, and footprint visiting vehicle fleet.