Principal Investigator
Akhil Rao

University of Colorado Boulder

Collaboration + support
Matthew Burgess; Daniel Kaffine; Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences; Economics; Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute

Aging satellites and space debris crowd low-Earth orbit, and launching new satellites adds to the collision risk.  

The most effective way to solve the space junk problem, according to a CU Boulder study, is not to capture debris or deorbit old satellites: it’s an international agreement to charge operators “orbital-use fees” for every satellite put into orbit. 

In a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, CU Boulder economists Matthew Burgess and Daniel Kaffine show orbital-use fees would also increase the long-run value of the space industry. By reducing satellite and debris collision risk, an annual fee rising to about $235,000 per satellite would quadruple the value of the satellite industry by 2040.