Space Debris as a Super-Wicked Problem: A System Dynamics Approach to Achieving Long-Term Sustainability in Low Earth Orbit
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- Master theses 
The following study shows that a simplified orbital simulation model can generate prominent results from different scenarios in exploring the dynamics of the environment in low earth orbit and its ramifications. Concentrating on the long-term impact, satellite launches presented as an external agent to the system. The model behaviour suggests that a certain carrying capacity in the orbital medium exists. Once the threshold is surpassed, an environmental tragedy takes place in the form of cascading collisions and increased frequency of fragmentation first suggested by Donald Kessler (1978). The tragedy and the wickedness of this problem carry crucial implications not only for the long-term orbital sustainability and security but also for the satellite industry and the world economy that relies on the services provided by satellites. In the short term, the results suggest that the situation in low earth orbit is not close to a catastrophic chain reaction, yet. However, if the business-as-usual scenario persists, satellites, an important aspect of our modern civilisation, might as well become the very reason hindering space exploration.