Standard Article

Space Debris Risk

Extremes and Environmental Risk

  1. David R. Brillinger

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470057339.vas035

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

How to Cite

Brillinger, D. R. 2006. Space Debris Risk. Encyclopedia of Environmetrics. 4.

Author Information

  1. University of California at Berkeley, CA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Space debris has been defined as manmade objects or parts thereof in space that do not serve any useful purpose. There is now a very substantial amount of such ‘space junk’ circling the earth and posing a risk to active and inactive satellites, space stations and spacecraft. This debris presents a problem, with substantial environmental and legal implications. It is yet another pollution problem. This debris has resulted from the more than 3000 space flights that have taken place since 1957. The general concern is risk assessment, that is: estimating the probability of some future event of adverse consequence. In the present circumstance space debris risk assessment might be defined as: The estimation of the probability that certain performance variates of a space object of interest exceed relevant critical levels, within a specified time period, as a result of collisions with space debris.