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N° 41–1999: World experts on space debris meet in Europe on 11-13 October

4 October 1999

Space debris experts from around the globe will gather from 11 until 13 October 1999, at the European Space Agency Operations Centre (ESOC) Darmstadt/Germany for the 17-th meeting of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC). IADC is concerned with all technical issues of the space debris problem. The main objectives of IADC are to exchange results of research in the field of space debris, to cooperate in research activities and to identify debris mitigation options.

The 17-th IADC will discuss ways and methods to control the growing amount of orbiting debris. Radar and optical telescopes regularly track over 10,000 artificial objects in space. The number of untrackable objects in the size range from 1 cm to 10 cm, that could seriously damage an operational spacecraft, is estimated at between 100,000 and 150,000. The International Space Station (ISS) will be equipped with about 200 shields in order to defeat impacts of particulates up to about 1 - 2 cm size.

Some recent and current topics of the IADC include

* guidelines for the disposal of spacecraft in the geostationary orbit;
* data exchange procedure and communications for reentry of risk objects;
* common database of space objects;
* risk assessment for the 1999 Leonids and countermeasures;
* measures to reduce the growth of the debris population in Low-Earth Orbit.

The results from the work of IADC will provide a technical basis for deliberations on space debris at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS). Media representatives will have the opportunity to be briefed on the space debris problem and on the main results of the 17-th IADC on 13 October at 15:00, at ESOC, Building H, Robert-Bosch Strasse 5, Darmstadt.

Those wishing to attend the briefing are kindly requested to fill out the attached form and fax it to ESOC Public Relations, Darmstadt. Fax: +49 6151 902 961.