Just like production facilities have a new-found responsibility to minimize their carbon footprint and energy companies are investing in new green energy initiatives, the space sector has a responsibility to leave little to zero footprint in orbit once a mission is complete. In order to ensure the safe and sustainable growth of a commercial space industry, all space actors will need to accept new standards that historically haven’t been feasible. All Spire satellites burn up in the atmosphere once their mission is complete, leaving zero debris behind.
Spire is Setting an Example for Other Space Actors
Every satellite license application Spire submits to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission includes an orbital debris assessment and de-orbit plan that exceeds the standard requirements. The Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination (IADC) committee recommends satellites be de-orbited to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere within 25 years of decommissioning.
Each of Spire's satellites is placed in an orbit that degrades over a relatively short amount of time. Spire's LEMURs are low-mass and high-surface area, so the effects of gravity, as well as drag from the thin atmosphere in LEO, brings them down to Earth in just a few years. Unlike satellites that promise to de-orbit using a propulsion system, if Spire's satellites were to fall, they would de-orbit within the exact same time window as outlined to the FCC & other regulatory bodies.
Cubesats like ours, when launched in LEO (specifically under 600 km of altitude), are entirely self-cleaning. They burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere on re-entry and don't leave any debris behind. We are preserving space for the next generation of explorers taking us to new heights.
"Largest cubesat operators say 25-year deorbit guideline a priority"
MOUNTAIN VIEW, California - Planet and Spire, operators of the two largest commercial cubesat constellations in orbit, say they manage their fleets to prevent retired spacecraft from lingering in space beyond internationally accepted guidelines.