Economic, Social, and Policy Analyses of Orbital Debris and Space Sustainability (ROSES 2023)

Funding Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Analyzing the economic, social, and political impacts of orbital debris is a nascent field of study that would greatly benefit from more research. To this end, NASA will work with selected teams and experts from non-governmental organizations (university, industry, research non-profit) to evaluate the economic, social, and political elements of orbital debris and space sustainability. 

A variety of multidisciplinary research groups focused on the orbital debris problem currently exist in the U.S. and internationally. This study effort will focus on U.S.-based universities and non-governmental organizations, while a complementary effort led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will garner contributions from international universities, and host conferences that both U.S. and international teams may participate in.  

Orbital debris research traditionally focuses on the critical task of understanding the physical space environment (characterizing debris, modeling proliferation, evaluating technical remediation and mitigation approaches, etc.). This research call seeks to expand upon this important work by integrating physical and social science research. Space sustainability is a highly complex problem that will require an interdisciplinary approach. We seek original research that will yield insight into the economic, social, political and other factors that both exacerbate and may yield potential solutions to the problem. To see titles and abstracts of awards that derived from this program, refer to the PDF of selections posted on the NSPIRES page for this program element from last year.

Preference will be given to teams that feature a strong interdisciplinary research and analysis approach or interdisciplinary teams that feature expertise in both social sciences (economics, econometrics, policy analysis) and physical sciences (physics, engineering).  

Proposal Deadline: May 17, 2023

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

Example research areas:

1) The development of an integrated behavioral-physical model of the orbital debris environment, including the use of existing probabilistic debris models and evaluations of the potential impacts of various mitigation approaches (e.g., greater compliance with 25-year de-orbit guidelines, expanded insurance requirements, Active Debris Remediation, etc).

2) The development of new indicators to measure trends in the space environment such as launch intensity, mass and quantity of satellites and other material launched into orbit, estimates of orbit capacity, fragmentation events, insurance premiums, satellite licensing, etc.

3) A more comprehensive evaluation of the risk of space debris, including the probability and severity of physical and economic impacts (both on orbit and on Earth). 

Funding Type





Engineering and Physical Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

May 17, 2023