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ISRO's Zero Debris Milestone: XPoSat & Space Junk



  Apr 17, 2024

ISRO's Zero Debris Milestone: XPoSat & Space Junk




1. What is orbital debris and why is it a concern?

Orbital debris, also known as space junk, consists of defunct satellites, spent rocket stages, and fragments from disintegration, erosion, and collisions. It poses a risk to active satellites and spacecraft due to the high speeds at which these objects travel in space, potentially leading to damaging collisions.

2. How did ISRO achieve practically zero debris in the PSLV-C58/XPoSat mission?

ISRO minimized debris by transforming the last stage of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), used in the PSLV-C58/XPoSat mission, into a temporary orbital platform called POEM-3. After completing its mission, POEM-3 was de-orbited, meaning it was intentionally brought down to a lower orbit where it re-entered Earth's atmosphere and burned up, leaving no debris.

3. What is POEM-3 and its purpose?

POEM-3, or the PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3, is an orbital platform developed by ISRO using the spent fourth stage of a PSLV rocket. Its purpose is to perform scientific experiments in space using payloads from various research institutions and startups. It also serves as a testbed for demonstrating technologies to minimize space debris.

4. What contributions does POEM-3 make to space debris mitigation?

By reusing the spent rocket stage as an experimental platform and then safely de-orbiting it, POEM-3 contributes to debris mitigation by ensuring that it does not add long-term debris in orbit. This approach prevents additional risks to other space assets.

5. What are the risks posed by space debris to space assets?

Space debris can collide with operational satellites, manned spacecraft, and space stations, causing significant damage or destruction due to the high velocities involved. These collisions can also generate more debris, exacerbating the problem.

6. How are space agencies dealing with the issue of space debris?

Space agencies are adopting various strategies, including designing missions to minimize debris, improving debris monitoring and management practices, and following guidelines like those set by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) which are endorsed by the UN. These guidelines promote the responsible use of space to reduce debris creation.

7. What is the significance of ISRO's zero debris achievement?

ISRO's achievement is significant as it demonstrates a proactive approach to tackle the growing problem of space debris. By successfully minimizing debris in the PSLV-C58/XPoSat mission and ensuring the safe disposal of the POEM-3 module, ISRO sets a precedent for future missions to incorporate debris mitigation strategies, promoting sustainable practices in space exploration.



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