Process for Limiting Orbital Debris Revised

Process for Limiting Orbital Debris Revised

2-minute read

NASA recently updated NASA-STD-8719.14, Process for Limiting Orbital Debris. This update follows the February 2017 revision of the governing policy document NPR 8715.6, NASA Procedural Requirements for Limiting Orbital Debris and Evaluating the Meteoroid and Orbital Debris Environments.

“We updated the standard as a result of a mandate from the baseline of the NASA Procedural Requirement two years ago,” explained Matt Forsbacka, Orbital Debris program executive. “This update focused on bringing our standard into compliance with other governing practices, simplifying processes where we could and improving the language throughout the document for increased clarity.”

NASA-STD-8719.4 Revision B, released in April 2019, addresses three key areas:

  1. The update brought the standard into full compliance with the current U.S. Government Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices (USODMSP). NASA now disallows long-term disposal options that cross through the semi-synchronous Medium-Earth Orbit band occupied by the Global Positioning System. The revised standard also brought Requirement 4.3-2 into alignment with the USODMSP practice for sizes of allowed debris and takes steps to limit the quantity and orbital lifetime of swarms of satellites smaller than 1 Unit of CubeSats.
  2. Revision B incorporated changes from NPD 8715.6, which simplified the documentation requirements, delivery schedule and required signatures at different stages of certain document deliveries. This also resulted in a simplification of the forms in the standard. 
  3. The revision cleaned up confusing or obsolete wording (especially related to active flight of the space shuttles). The revision involved support and contributions from spacecraft developers across all NASA centers, as it has since the standard’s creation.

NASA-STD-8719.14B is expected to have a sunset date of February 2022 in keeping with the required Feb. 16, 2021, update of NPR 8715.6. Potential updates to USODMSP in the near future may require an early revision. Questions can be directed to Forsbacka.