A Monte Carlo Analysis for Collision Risk Assessment on Vega Launcher Payloads and LARES Satellite

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Abstract

This work has been developed in the framework of the LARES mission of the Italian Space Agency (ASI). The LARES satellite has been built to test, with high accuracy, the frame–dragging effect predicted by the theory of General Relativity, specifically the Lense–Thirring drag of its node. LARES was the main payload in the qualification flight of the European Space Agency launcher VEGA. A concern arose about the possibility of an impact between the eight secondary payloads among themselves, with LARES and with the last stage of the launcher (AVUM). An impact would have caused failure on the payloads and the production of debris in violation of the space debris mitigation measures established internationally. As an additional contribution, this study allowed the effect of the payload release on the final manoeuvers of the AVUM to be understood.

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