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Tri-Agency Reliability Engineering Guidance: Post Mission Disposal and Extension Assessment The Trilateral partners — the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Government (USG) in their execution of safe and successful missions, have a long-standing history of sustaining the shared space environment of operational Earth-Moon orbits with their global space-stewardship, or spacekeeping, of these areas.

This has driven missions to limit the generation of new and long-lived debris, control debris releases, minimize accidental explosions and collisions, and ensure Post-Mission Disposal of space systems, so that the environment remains safe for future operations and explorations. Given the continued need for space systems to support global mandatory infrastructure and commercial enterprise, spacefarers are extending beyond the Trilateral partners, more and smaller satellites are being deployed, and current assets are being utilized much longer than expected. This is making space more congested than ever; therefore, the Trilateral partners are evaluating potential future debris mitigation strategies, evolving technology, developing on-orbit servicing capabilities, and advancing their abilities to assess disposal and mission extension plans. They are also sharing their lessons learned and identifying opportunities for future state-of-the-art advancements for current and future space enterprises.

Sustaining the space environment cannot be ensured by any one agency or country. Thus, the Trilateral authors have shared their lessons learned, insights, and guidance, herein, on disposal and mission extension assessment strategies with the gratitude of each agency. As such, this document is not prescriptive, but was formulated to enhance value-and-risk-balanced operational decision-making, support policy refinement, and guide spacefaring partners beyond these agencies to assess their activities in space with safety and a global space-stewardship, or spacekeeping, in mind. This includes not only the disposal and mission extension assessment addressed herein, but also preserving space history, ensuring collaboration/interoperability of technology, supporting fellow operators without interfering, and the utilization of in-situ resources for the common benefit of humankind.

It is the intention of the Trilateral partners that this document evolves based on community lessons learned and the introduction of new assessment methodologies. So, all readers are encouraged to share their insights with the authors from their own application of this guidance or other strategies to ensure each mission has a successful, safe, and judicious life and conclusion.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Special Publication (SP)
Fabrice Cosson
(European Space Agency Paris, France)
Toru Yoshihara
(Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Tokyo, Japan)
Nancy J Lindsey
(Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, Maryland, United States)
Date Acquired
November 26, 2021
Publication Date
January 1, 2022
Subject Category
Quality Assurance and Reliability
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Portions of document may include copyright protected material.
Technical Review
External Peer Committee
Mission disposal
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