Large Constellation Disposal Hazards

Yearly reentry of large numbers of satellites can pose a significant hazard to people, both on the ground and in aircraft. How great are the risks we face?

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space debris entering atmosphere

This assessment of potential risks to people and aircraft from random reentries of large numbers of satellites shows that risks to aircraft posed by small debris surviving a reentry might be a major problem, with worldwide risk of an aircraft striking a reentering debris fragment on the order of once every 200 years. Hazards to people on the ground from larger debris objects will also be a significant problem, with expectations as high as 1 casualty every 10 years. Spacecraft components and features could be designed to have fewer large and small fragments survive, but only limited hard data on actual debris survival currently exists.