Modelling future launch traffic and its effect on the LEO operational environment

Callum J. Wilson, Massimiliano Vasile, Jinglang Feng, Keiran McNally, Alfredo Antón, Francesca Letizia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

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Launches are a significant source of uncertainty for the evolution of the space environment, which creates a major challenge for predicting the state of the environment in future. Many space environment models that require an estimate of launch traffic will either use no launches as a baseline or repeat historical data. Recent shifts in launch traffic because of New Space have shown that this approach is unrealistic and does not account for potential further changes in launch traffic. Our proposed approach to modelling launches is a parametric model that can simulate various future launch scenarios. This model calculates the total number of objects launched per year using an exponential-logistic curve to capture the sharp increase in launch traffic. To determine the location and physical characteristics of launched objects, the model fits probability distributions to data from previous launches. These distributions can vary over time to simulate other changes in launch trends aside from the number of objects. The launch model can be used along with other debris environment modelling tools to simulate the evolution of the space environment and accordingly to calculate the risk of collision for new missions. Results are shown for the collision likelihood of some example missions in LEO based on a launch scenario generated by the model.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA SciTech 2024 Forum
Place of PublicationReston, VA
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781624107115
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2024
EventAIAA SciTech Forum 2024 - Orlando, United States
Duration: 8 Jan 202412 Jan 2024


ConferenceAIAA SciTech Forum 2024
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • launch traffic
  • New Space
  • space environment
  • parametric model
  • collision likelihood


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