Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Industrial Engineering

Major Professor

Dr. James Simonton

Committee Members

Dr. James Simonton, Dr. Andrew Yu, Dr. Janice Tolk, Dr. Mingzhou Jin, Dr. Trevor Moeller


Since mankind launched the first satellite into orbit in 1957, we have been inadvertently, yet deliberately, creating an environment in space that may ultimately lead to the end of our space exploration. Space debris, more specifically, orbital debris is a growing problem that must be dealt with sooner, rather than later. Several ideas have been developed to address the complex problem of orbital debris mitigation.

This research will investigate the possibility of removing orbital debris from the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) regime by using a metaheuristic algorithm to maximize collection of debris resulting from the February 2009 on-orbit collision of Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251. This treatment will concentrate on the Iridium debris field for analysis. This research is necessary today, more than ever, as we embark on the launch of thousands of LEO spacecraft, which could result in the realization of the Kessler Syndrome, “The certain risk of failure on launch or during operations due to an on-orbit collision with debris” (Kessler & Cour-Palais, 1978).

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