Safety in space

International guidance for avoiding collisions of orbiting objects updated.

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With thousands of objects orbiting around in space at any moment, procedures need to be in place in order to avoid collisions. The international guidance for keeping space safe has just been updated.

ISO/TR 16158, Space systems – Avoiding collisions among orbiting objects, provides agreed ways of collaborating amongst those who operate satellites to ensure the space environment is used safely and effectively. It describes a number of widely used techniques for perceiving close approaches, estimating the probability of collision and survival, and executing manoeuvres to avoid collisions.

ISO/TR 16158:2021
Space systems
Avoiding collisions among orbiting objects

The technical report was recently revised to ensure it remains fit for purpose, with the addition of more detailed information to analyse the collision risk and possible avoidance operations.

André LaCroix, Convenor of the group of experts that developed the guidance, recognized that the number of satellites and other orbiting objects has risen in recent years as their use in areas such as telecommunications, national security and space science has grown.

“Yet, like on any other highway, the traffic needs to run smoothly to avoid accidents,” he said.

“This technical report provides the workflow necessary for this to happen. It includes the data requirements for these tasks and the techniques that can be used to estimate the likelihood that collision will occur and what to do to avoid it.”

ISO/TR 16158 was developed by subcommittee SC 14, Space systems and operations, of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 20, Aircraft and space vehicles. The secretariat of ISO/TC 20/SC 14 is ANSI, ISO’s member for the USA.

The technical report can be purchased from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.

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