An interview with Dr. Tim Flohrer: On Low Earth Orbit orbital debris mitigation, avoidance, and tracking

Eduardo Maristany* and Swetha Tadisina

Edited by Laura Shupp

Interview | Aug. 31 2023

*Email: eduardom@alum.mit.edu

DOI: 10.38105/spr.9xy5fs4fhi

Banner image made by Manraj Gill

Article Summary

MIT Science Policy Review spoke with Dr. Tim Flohrer about his perspective on policy and technological aspects of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) orbital debris mitigation, avoidance, and tracking. Dr. Flohrer is the Head of the Space Debris Office at the European Space Agency (ESA). He holds a PhD in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Bern and a Master’s in Geodesy from the Dresden University of Technology. He joined the Space Debris Office as an engineer in 2007 and since 2014, he has worked for ESA’s Space Situational Awareness Programme (SSA) and Space Safety Programme, and he currently leads activities addressing the monitoring of space debris. In parallel, he also supports operational collision avoidance activities for ESA and third-party missions, re-entry predictions, mitigation analyses, long-term predictions of the space debris environment, and space debris risk assessments. Additionally, he is a delegate to the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC). Because of his ties to ESA and deep technological knowledge, he brings a valuable, and often overlooked, international perspective on the orbital debris mitigation, avoidance, and tracking space.

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Eduardo Maristany

Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Swetha Tadisina

Engineering Studies Program, Dept. of Computer Science, Lafayette College, Easton, PA