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SpaceX, OneWeb, and Iridium Release Joint Best Practices for Orbital Safety

By Rachel Jewett | September 8, 2022

Photo: NASA

SpaceX, OneWeb, and Iridium jointly released a document of best practices for orbital safety on Thursday afternoon. The best practices guide was facilitated by industry group the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). 

The document encompasses practices for all phases of satellite including design; launch and early orbit; on-orbit operations; and disposal. It describes information-sharing among satellite operators to avoid conjunctions, and calls for satellites to be designed to minimize debris creation in the event of a collision. 

The document also calls for satellites to be installed with interfaces for active debris removal once a standard has been established in the industry. 

The group said in a letter that these best practices can guide and improve cooperative operations in space. They do not “contradict or supersede” earlier works like NASA’s Spacecraft Conjunction Assessment and Collision Avoidance (CARA) Best Practices Handbook. 

“The best practices presented in this document are designed to be applicable to any operator anywhere in the world, regardless of how they receive conjunction warnings, and represent the best practices that the signatories have adopted. Ideally, the best practices contained herein can provide a foundation for discussions leading to a global consensus of behaviors,” the group said. 

AIAA is hosting a webinar on Sept. 15 to discuss implementation of the document.