• STDM Project Group
    STDM Project Group

    Advanced Space Technologies are an essential tool when disaster strikes - find out more with the  Group on Space Technologies For Disaster Management (STDM) Group!

  • SSS Group

    It is vital to keep space clean, safe and useable for future generations - if you are curious how you can contribute, be sure to check out the Space Safety and Sustainability Group!

  • Small Satellites Project Group

    Are you interested in the small satellite community and would like to be up-to-date, while meeting young professionals and students from around the world? Join our group!

  • NEO Project Group

    Near Earth Objects are a substantial hazard to our civilization, but also an opportunity for further space development. The NEO group focuses on everything from detection and mitigation to resource utilization. Check out our page for more information and learn how to get involved!

  • SLP Project Group

    The Space Law and Policy Group incorporates all aspects of those two broad fields of study. It develops the term ‘space law’ as all types of space-related international and national regulations and laws, whereas it interprets the term ‘space policy’ as all kinds of objectives and action plans of the international space community.

Space Safety and Sustainability Project Group


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Project Sponsors and Team


  • Project leads:
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Advisory Team:
    David Finkleman (CSSI/AGI) 
    Ronald Kohl (AIAA)
    Minoo Rathnasabapathy (Former SSS Co-Lead)
    Shannon Ryan (IAF)
    Maite Trujillo (ESA/IAASS)
    Brian Weeden (SWF)



Project Overview

Space safety refers to the safeguard of valuable space facilities and people on the ground and in orbit as well as the security of the ground and space environments themselves. Space activities have created an orbital debris environment that poses increasing collision risks to existing space systems, including human spaceflight and robotic missions. Even small, untrackable particles can cause considerable destruction to spacecraft or their subsystems. The proliferation of space debris and the increased possibilities of collision and interference raise concerns about the long-term sustainability of space activities, particularly in the Low Earth Orbit and Geostationary Earth Orbit environments. It is vital that we act now to keep space clean, safe and useable for future generations.



  1. To encourage active participation among students and young professionals in space safety and sustainability related debates and activities.
  2. To create an international space forum to showcase the perspectives of the next generation of space leaders on the safety and long-term sustainability of outer space activities.
  3. To afford current industry stakeholders access to a pool of young space enthusiasts interested in space safety and sustainability related issues.


Current Projects 

SSS Working Group member Phillip Maier presents SSS paper at IAC2012

SSS Working Group member Philipp Maier
presents SSS paper at IAC2012

Active Debris Removal (ADR) Policy Project

Despite the many unanswered legal, political, and economic questions surrounding active debris removal (ADR), it is an endeavor worth pursuing if we are to continue relying on space activities for a variety of critical daily needs and services. This project aims to explore some of these challenges and propose an economically, politically, and legally viable ADR option. Much like waste management on Earth, cleaning up space junk will likely lie somewhere between a public good and a private sector service. An international, cooperative, public-private partnership concept can address many of these issues and be economically sustainable, while also driving the creation of a proper set of regulations, standards and best practices.

Orbital Debris Management Project

Orbital debris poses a growing danger to international space assets at a wide range of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) altitudes. Current technology limits tracking and de orbiting of all threatening material. Furthermore, collection satellites are fail-deadly, producing exponentially more debris material in a failure scenario. An alternative solution is to drive atmosphere toward LEO altitudes, increasing local air density and inducing drag on orbital debris. Initial computational studies at the University of Michigan suggest this concept is plausible. A cost-effective reduction to practice may require the use of a vortex ring generator to reduce drag upon propelled fluid during ascent. This study will explore how air vortex rings propagate and their use as a drag inducing mechanism for orbital debris management.

Active Debris Removal Technical Project

During the past few years, several research programs have assessed the current state and future evolution of the Low Earth Orbit region highlighting the urgency for active debris removal (ADR). An Active Debris Removal System should be capable of approaching the selected debris object through a close-range rendezvous, establishing physical contact, stabilizing its attitude and finally de-orbiting the debris object using a type of propulsion system in a controlled manoeuvre.

The groups is investigating different methods of approach and de-orbiting (chemical, chemical-EDT) using Analytical Graphics Inc. Systems Tool Kit (STK) and ESA software DRAMA. It will be studied some of the methods for initiating physical contact with the identified object and assessment of their suitability for such mission with also mission cost estimation.


Call for Volunteers

Authors of Active Debris Removal Paper at SGC 2012
Authors of Active Debris
Removal Paper at SGC 2012
(From left: Minoo Rathnasabapathy,
Philipp Maier, Zhuoyan Lu)

The space environment is an international domain and requires collaborative efforts from all space-faring nations to ensure the safety and sustainability of this environment. It is therefore essential that there is a wider awareness of an international culture of space safety and sustainability among the space community.

The Working Group will assist in building the highest possible degree of uniformity in regulations and standards, procedures and organisation regarding space safety and sustainability. This will be achieved through meetings, reports, conference presentations, competitions, and outreach projects.

The Working Group is calling for SGAC members to volunteer to be a part of this excellent, global project. Want to join? Contact the project This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sub Group Subject Areas
Space Debris
  • Detection and mitigation
  • Re-entry risk assessment
  • Removal
Space Safety
  • Spacecraft risk assessment
  • Space flight and operational safety
  • System safety design
Space Situational Awareness
  • Space traffic management and control
  • Collision avoidance
  • Data sharing
Space Weather Effects
  • Neutral atmosphere effects
  • Radiation effects
  • Thermal effects


SGAC Space Safety and Sustainability Working Group IAC2012 Presentations


SGAC Space Safety and Sustainability Working Group Reports


SSS Links of Interest

Space Safety Operations:
ISS foundations: www.issfoundation.org/ISSF/Home.html
IAASS: www.iaass.org/

Space Debris:
NASA's Orbital debris page: orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/
ESA's page dedicatd to debris: www.esa.int/esaMI/Space_Debris/SEMQQ8VPXPF_0.html

Space Weather:
ESA Space Weather: http://esa-spaceweather.net/index.html
NASA Space Weather: http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/mission/spaceweather/effects.php

Space Situational Awareness:


SSS Members

Authors of Space Situational Awareness paper with
SGAC Chair Catherine Doldirina at SGC 2012
(From left: Catherine Doldirina, Guzel Kamaletdinova,
Michael Kretzenbacher, Minoo Rathnasabapathy, Tiffany Chow)
Ali Alizadeh
Christoph Becker
Kate Becker
Vitali Braun
Shane Chaddha
Emmanuelle David
Emmanouil Detsis
Antariksh Dicholkar
Matteo Emanuelli 
Andrea Esposito
Giulia Federico
Scott Fisher
Guzel Kamaletdinovais
Joshua Loughman
Joao Lousada
Zhuoyan Lu
Phillip Maier
Peetak Mitra
Ali Nasseri
Matthew Noyes
Deva Prasad
Leila Qasemzade
Glen Rugaber
Raval Siddharth
Mahsa Taheran
Andrea Turconi




Commercial Space

Commercial Space Project Group


Near Earth Objects



Space Exploration

Space Safety & Sustainability


Small Satellites

Small Satellites Project Group

Space Law & Policy

SpaceLaw Logo  

Space Technology for
Disaster Management



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