Agilex guided the program’s development and execution in terms of agenda, presentations and speaker selection. “As evident by the recent collision between an Iridium satellite and a non-operational Russian object, the threat of orbital debris is very real and growing rapidly,” said Dr. Darren McKnight, chief scientific officer, Agilex Technologies, Inc. “In response to these challenges, this conference was successful in highlighting the complex economic, political, legal and operational issues associated with actively removing orbital debris. By recognizing these interrelationships, we can narrow our efforts going forward to focus on the most promising solutions.” Dr. McKnight is the author of Artificial Space Debris and a recognized authority on space operations. As part of the conference, Dr. McKnight presented two technical papers:
- GEOSYNCHRONOUS ORBIT (GEO) OBJECT CHARACTERIZATION FOR DEBRIS REMOVAL – Working with Agilex’ Dr. Jacob Griesbach and Christine Rogers of SAIC, McKnight detailed the unique characteristics of satellites in geostationary orbit that are critical to determining how to prepare for the continuing growth in orbital debris and related hazards.
- REMOVING ORBITAL DEBRIS WITHOUT GOING INTO ORBIT – In a second presentation, McKnight challenged the audience to consider more creative, non-traditional approaches for eliminating space debris. As one example, McKnight discussed the potential use of gaseous balloons as a means for disrupting the trajectory of existing debris. Commented McKnight, “as with other environmental challenges, early intervention beats later remediation in terms of cost and complexity. We can either address orbital debris today or pay more later to do so.”