Aerospace Evaluates International Space Station (ISS) De-orbit Alternatives

Corporate Staff
posted November 30, 2012


At some point in the near future, the ISS will have to be decommissioned, de-orbited, and returned to Earth. The end-of-life disposal of the ISS must be carefully planned to meet the strict safety standards required to minimize third-party damage and avoid casualties (less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of a casualty).

Value Added:

Aerospace worked in conjunction with NASA to perform an analysis to determine the lowest altitude the ISS can fly without losing attitude control capability in preparation for future deorbit. Aerospace received a portion of the required input data from NASA, and provided the data to Aerospace personnel for review. Aerospace submitted to NASA Task Order 06-08, “Assessment of the Controllability of the De-orbit of the ISS,” addressed the technical approach, schedule, deliverables, period of performance, and cost estimate. In addition, Aerospace performed a “quick look” analysis of the maximum perigee target altitude that will ensure all debris falls within a 6000-km footprint. The results of this analysis provided the ISS program the confirmation to rule out the Automated Transfer Vehicle, one of the three options for deorbiting the ISS. This enabled NASA to concentrate resources on the remaining two options for de-orbit, the Service Module/Progress or the Crew Exploration Vehicle.