Letter of Request


National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Washington, DC 20546-0001



April 26, 2010


Reply to Attn ot:

office of Safety and Mission Assurance

Dr. Raymond A. Colladay
Chair, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
National Research Council
500 5th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Dr. Colladay:

The White House Office of Management and Budget and Office of Science and Technology Policy have requested that the NASA Administrator “establish a National Research Council [NRC] study of opportunities for NASA to enhance the benefits delivered by its orbital debris program in the context of a fairly constrained budget environment.”

For the past two decades, NASA has built a robust program to evaluate and limit the generation of orbital debris (OD) and the risk to NASA spacecraft associated with OD and micrometeoroids (MM). NASA’s OD and MM programs are recognized worldwide, yet with the growth of orbital debris over the past few years, we recognize the responsibility to use our capabilities and assets to support not just NASA needs, but also to support, as a national resource, other national and international OD and MM activities. The NRC generated foundational studies of these issues in 1989, 1995, and 1997, all of which form the basis for NASA’s role in OD and MM. Therefore, we request that the NRC conduct a study to:

•   Review existing NASA policy/efforts and organization with regards to OD and MM, including:

images   Modeling and simulation

images   Detection and monitoring

images   Protection

images   Mitigation

images   Reentry

images   Collision Assessment Risk Analysis and Launch Collision Avoidance

images   Interagency cooperation

images   International cooperation

images   Cooperation with the commercial space industry

•   Assess whether NASA should initiate work in any new OD/MM areas.

•   Recommend whether NASA should increase or decrease effort, or change the focus of, any of its current MM/OD efforts (within a fairly constrained budget) to improve the office’s ability to serve NASA and other national and international activities.

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