Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An international environmental agreement for space debris mitigation among asymmetric nations
by Singer, Michael, M.S., University of California, Santa Cruz, 2012, 37; 1508170
Abstract (Summary)

We investigate how ideas from the International Environmental Agreement (IEA) literature can be applied to the problem of space debris mitigation. Space debris pollution is similar to other international environmental problems in that there is a potential for a "tragedy of the commons" effect: individual nations bear all the cost of their mitigation measures but share only a fraction of the benefit. As a consequence, nations have a tendency to underinvest in mitigation. Coalitions of nations, brought together by IEAs, have the potential to lessen the tragedy of the commons effect by pooling the costs and benefits of mitigation. This work brings together two recent modeling advances: (i) a game theoretic model for studying the potential gains from IEA cooperation between nations with asymmetric costs and benefits, (ii) an orbital debris model that gives the societal cost that specific actions, such as failing to deorbit an inactive spacecraft, have on the environment. We combine these two models with empirical launch-share data for a "proof of concept" of an IEA for a single mitigation measure--deorbiting spacecraft at the end of operational lifetime. Simulations of empirically-derived and theoretical launch distributions among nations suggest the possibility that voluntary coalitions can provide significant deorbiting gains relative to nations acting in the absence of an IEA agreement.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Musacchio, John
Commitee: Bilimoria, Karl, Mantey, Patrick E.
School: University of California, Santa Cruz
Department: Technology and Information Management
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 50/05M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental economics, Environmental management, Aerospace engineering, Sustainability
Keywords: Deorbiting, Game theory, International environmental agreement, Space debris, Sustainability
Publication Number: 1508170
ISBN: 9781267262684
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