Reply to Attn of:    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:

o  Modeling and simulation

o  Detection and monitoring

o  Protection

o  Mitigation

o  Reentry

o  Collision Assessment Risk Analysis and Launch Collision Avoidance

o  Interagency cooperation

o  International cooperation

o  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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