The Indian Space Research Organisation has initiated research and development activities for the removal of debris left in orbit by space missions, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday.
Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Earth Sciences Jitendra Singh told the Lower House that ISRO follows the guidelines laid down by the United Nations as well as by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee for space debris mitigation.
The guidelines include post-mission disposal of satellites and rocket bodies efficiently to ensure the space debris produced by India does not stay in orbit.
“ISRO has also initiated research and development activities on active debris removal to extract space debris from space,” Singh said in reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.
He said at the end of each mission, space debris or the satellite/rocket at the end of its operational life is de-orbited quickly with a series of carefully planned manoeuvres.
Due to the post-mission disposal activities carried out by ISRO, the only space debris left after any mission is the final-stage rocket-body which is de-orbited to a lower orbit to aid natural orbital decay due to atmospheric drag, Singh said.
The space debris later re-enters the earth’s atmosphere naturally within 20 years and burns due to aerodynamic heating caused by air friction, he said.
Last week, the International Space Station had to lower its orbit by 310 metres for almost three minutes to dodge a fragment from a US launch vehicle. In November, Russia had carried out an anti-satellite missile test that had generated debris in low earth orbit which could pose a hazard to space activities.