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NPR 8715.6B
Effective Date: February 16, 2017
Expiration Date: February 16, 2024
Printable Format (PDF)

Subject: NASA Procedural Requirements for Limiting Orbital Debris and Evaluating the Meteoroid and Orbital Debris Environments

Responsible Office: Office of Safety and Mission Assurance

| TOC | ChangeHistory | Preface | Chapter1 | Chapter2 | Chapter3 | AppendixA | AppendixB | ALL |

Chapter 1. Introduction

1.1 Technical Objectives

1.1.1 This NPR defines responsibilities and requirements to ensure that NASA and its partners, providers, and contractors consider the preservation of the near-Earth space environment and the space environment beyond Earth's orbit and mitigation of the risk to human life and space missions due to orbital debris and meteoroids, by pursuing the following objectives.

1.1.2 A first objective is to control the generation of orbital debris and mitigate its growth. In particular:

a. Orbital debris released as part of normal operations is minimized.

b. The potential for orbital debris generated by accidental explosions is limited.

c. The potential for breakup or loss of passivation and disposal capabilities due to on-orbit collisions is limited.

d. The number of expended or decommissioned space objects remaining in orbit, and their durations in orbit, are limited.

e. The likelihood of collisions with other space objects is minimized.

1.1.3 A second objective is to ensure that the meteoroid and orbital debris environments are characterized and risk to human life (public and crew) and space missions from the environment is minimized or limited. In particular:

a. Sufficient knowledge of the meteoroid and orbital debris environments exists to inform design and operation decisions.

b. Risks to spacecraft and crew from meteoroids and orbital debris are mitigated.

c. The risk of human casualty due to reentry of orbital debris is limited to accepted levels.

1.1.4 This NPR documents organizational responsibilities related to these objectives. NASA-STD-8719.14 contains technical requirements and requirements for the documentation of related assessments. NASA-HDBK 8719.14 provides relevant background information.

1.2 Guiding Policies

1.2.1 This NPR serves in part to implement the U.S. National Space Policy of 2010, which states: Preserve the Space Environment. For the purposes of minimizing debris and preserving the space environment for the responsible, peaceful, and safe use of all users, the United States shall:

a. Lead the continued development and adoption of international and industry standards and policies to minimize debris, such as the United Nations Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines;

b. Develop, maintain, and use space situational awareness (SSA) information from commercial, civil, and national security sources to detect, identify, and attribute actions in space that are contrary to responsible use and the long-term sustainability of the space environment;

c. Continue to follow the United States Government Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices, consistent with mission requirements and cost effectiveness, in the procurement and operation of spacecraft, launch services, and the conduct of tests and experiments in space;

d. Pursue research and development of technologies and techniques, through the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Secretary of Defense, to mitigate and remove on-orbit debris, reduce hazards, and increase understanding of the current and future debris environment; and

e. Require the head of the sponsoring department or agency to approve exceptions to the United States Government Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices and notify the Secretary of State. Foster the Development of Space Collision Warning Measures. The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, the Administrator of NASA, and other departments and agencies, may collaborate with industry and foreign nations to: maintain and improve space object databases; pursue common international data standards and data integrity measures; and provide services and disseminate orbital tracking information to commercial and international entities, including predictions of space object conjunction."

1.2.2 Compliance with this NPR and NASA-STD-8719.14 is intended to meet the guidelines and intent of the U.S. Government Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices.

1.3 Relief from Requirements

1.3.1 In this NPR it is recognized that the current state of spacecraft and launch vehicles might preclude total compliance with orbital debris mitigation requirements. Project managers and launch service providers may, therefore, seek relief from those requirements.

1.3.2 The process for requesting and granting of waivers and exceptions is defined in NPR 8715.3. Requests for relief to the requirements in this NPR and NASA-STD-8719.14 are elevated to the Headquarters level.

1.3.3 Relief from requirements may be requested from the Chief, Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) by the MDAA sponsoring the mission.

1.3.4 In evaluating requests for relief, the Chief, SMA considers whether any additional risk to the public and space environment is acceptable given the importance of the mission, whether design and operational measures have been applied to the extent reasonably practicable, and whether a violation of the U.S. Government Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices would exist if relief were granted. If the latter is true, the Chief, SMA may obtain the Administrator's consent to adjudicate the request at his or her level or, otherwise, will elevate the request to the Administrator. The Administrator and Chief, SMA, would make such determinations in consideration of applicable National Space Policy and the responsibilities defined in NPD 8700.1 with regards to consent to residual human safety or property risk on behalf of the general public.

1.3.5 The MDAA may appeal decisions by the Chief, SMA to the Associate Administrator and Administrator in accordance with the dissenting opinion process defined in NPD 1000.0.

1.3.6 Waiver requests pertaining to collision avoidance (paragraphs 3.3.2, 3.3.3, and 3.3.5) will be sent to the Chief Engineer for review and concurrence prior to submittal to the Chief, SMA.

1.3.7 On behalf of the Administrator, the Associate Administrator for International and Interagency Relations (AA/OIIR), following coordination with the Chief, SMA, notifies the Secretary of State of any non-compliance with the U.S. Government Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices, as required by the June 2010 National Space Policy.

| TOC | ChangeHistory | Preface | Chapter1 | Chapter2 | Chapter3 | AppendixA | AppendixB | ALL |
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