GTOC 9 – The Kessler Run

img_colorlogo_darkblue.gif (344×150)This edition was organised by Dario Izzo of the European Space Agency’s Advanced Concepts Team. The announcement was officially made on the 1st of April 2017, and can be found here.

In a Nutshell

The theme chosen for this competition was active space debris removal and the competition was named “The Kessler Run”. It is imagined that in the year 2060 a serious explosion triggered the Kessler effect compromising the Sun-synchronous orbital environment. Fortunately, not all is lost, as scientists isolate a set of 123 orbiting debris pieces that, if removed, would allow to restore the orbital environment functionalities. Multiple missions have to be designed that cumulatively remove all the debris pieces. Each mission cost depends on the spacecraft mass and a base increasing cost.

The files sent by ESA to describe the problem are:

  1. List of registered teams
  2. Problem statement
  3. Problem data: Debris orbits
  4. Example submissions – Example1Example2
  5. Final Rankings
The Winners

Led by Anastassios Petropoulos and Daniel Grebow, the team from Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) won this edition. For the first time the same team gets the fourth victory in a GTOC.

The Acta Futura Special Issue

A special issue of the Acta Futura Journal will contain peer-reviewed contributions from the various teams and is scheduled for late 2017/early 2018. Interested teams will receive instructions before the summer and will have up to the 1st of October 2017 to submit their work.

The Workshop

The GTOC9 workshop was held in Japan, as a special session of the 31st ISTS, 26th ISSFD & 8th NSAT Joint Conference.

  1. GTOC9 special session at ISSFD/ISTS: programme
  2. GTOC9 special session at ISSFD/ISTS :proceedings
Curiosities

The competition theme and title “The Kessler run” is a citation of the famous Han Solo quote “The Millennium Falcon … its the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsec”

To honour the quote, ESA tuned the parameters so that it would be difficult or anyway not convenient to do the Kessler run in less than 12 submissions. Nevertheless: “JPL … its the team that made the Kessler Run in less than 12 … submissions.

Several new solutions were found after the competition deadline from XSCC, NUDT and other teams and scoring less than 720MEUR. The JPL team found a J=711 solution that was briefly presented at the workshop.

The number of registered teams as well as the number of entries in the final rankings were the highest in the GTOC history.