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Abstract

Recently, there has been an emphasis on the growing problem of orbital debris. While the advantages of placing satellites into space are numerous, advances in satellite technology combined with the growth of the industry have resulted with a significant amount of debris in the orbits surrounding our planet. The harshness of the space environment has also contributed to the debris, as evidenced by the number of objects currently in orbit which are not operational. As the amount of debris grows, so too does the likelihood of collisions, ultimately culminating in the Kessler Effect. However, recent advances in propulsion, advanced navigation, and robotics may allow for the servicing of inoperable satellites in orbit. Satellite maintenance provides an opportunity to not only conserve resources, but also minimize debris. Using a modified causal loop diagram and flowchart, the potential for satellite maintenance to reduce orbital debris is demonstrated; by shifting the number of inoperable satellites to those that are operable reduces the likelihood of a collision through the adherence of post mission procedures. Under this scenario, satellite maintenance presents an opportunity to minimize orbital debris, and in turn the Kessler Effect.

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