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The International Space Station and the Space Debris Environment: 10 Years On

Johnson, Nicholas1
Affiliation data not available1

Document details

Publishing year2009 PublisherESA Publishing typeConference Name of conference5th European Conference on Space Debris
Pagesn/a Volume
H. Lacoste


For just over a decade the International Space Station (ISS), the most heavily protected vehicle in Earth orbit, has weathered the space debris environment well. Numerous hypervelocity impact features on the surface of ISS caused by small orbital debris and meteoroids have been observed. In addition to typical impacts seen on the large solar arrays, craters have been discovered on windows, hand rails, thermal blankets, radiators, and even visiting logistics modules. None of these impacts have resulted in any degradation of the operation or mission of the ISS. Inadvertently and deliberately, the ISS has also been the source of space debris, although these objects typically exhibit very short orbital lifetimes.