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
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:
Modeling and simulation
Detection and monitoring
Collision Assessment Risk Analysis and Launch Collision Avoidance
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.
I would like to request that NRC submit a plan to NASA for this study. NASA will provide a review of current OD and MM efforts and associated data sources to NRC at an early opportunity. The results of this study will be of the highest value to NASA in formulating the FY-2013 budget. We will need the findings and recommendations review completed by March 31, 2011. Once agreement with NRC on the scope and cost of the proposed study has been achieved, the NASA Contracting Officer will issue a task order for implementation. Mr. John W. Lyver, IV, will be the NASA technical point of contact for this effort and may be reached at (202) 358-1155 or by e-mail at JLyver@NASA.GOV.