Abstract for: Kessler Syndrome: System Dynamics Approach

Paper explores Kessler Syndrome (potentially catastrophic accumulation of debris in the Low-Earth Orbit) through System Dynamics methodology. It models satellites and three classes of debris, their fragmentation, interactions and gradual decay over 50 years. It presents three scenarios: a) “business as usual” approach, which leads to exponential accumulation and growing rate of satellite losses, but no catastrophic chain reaction; b) conflict with a large-scale deployment of Anti-Satellite Weapons, leading to accelerated accumulation and losses, but still no chain reaction; and c) cessation of all LEO satellite launches, illustrating high inertia of the system, which continues to produce more debris. Both b) and c) take place in 2040. Paper demonstrates gravity of the situation and necessity for a sustainable long-term solution, as orbital debris poses a threat to our future space operation even without triggering a catastrophic chain reaction.