A supersynchronous orbit is any orbit in which the orbital period of a satellite or celestial body is greater than the rotational period of the body which contains the barycenter of the orbit. It will necessarily lie beyond the orbital altitude of synchronous orbits for that celestial body.
Geocentric supersynchronous orbits
One particular supersynchronous orbital regime of significant economic value to Earth commerce is a band of near-circular Geocentric orbits beyond the Geosynchronous belt—with perigee altitude above 36,100 kilometres (22,400 mi), approximately 300 kilometres (190 mi) above synchronous altitude —called the geo graveyard belt.
The geo graveyard belt orbital regime is valuable as a storage and disposal location for derelict satellite space debris after their useful economic life is completed as Geosynchronous communication satellites. Artificial satellites are left in space because the economic cost of removing the debris would be high, and current public policy does not require nor incent rapid removal by the party that first inserted the debris in outer space and thus created a negative externality for others. One public policy proposal to deal with growing space debris is a "one-up/one-down" launch license policy for Earth orbits. Launch vehicle operators would have to pay the cost of debris mitigation. They would need to build the capability into their launch vehicle-robotic capture, navigation, mission duration extension, and substantial additional propellant – to be able to rendezvous with, capture and deorbit an existing derelict satellite from approximately the same orbital plane.
Non-Geocentric supersynchronous orbits
A number of satellites and celestial bodies in the Solar system are in supersynchronous orbits.
The Mars Orbiter Mission—currently en route to Mars with arrival planned for September 2014—will be placed into highly elliptical supersynchronous orbit around Mars, with a period of 76.7 hours and a planned periapsis of 365 km (227 mi) and apoapsis of 80,000 km (50,000 mi).
- "U.S. Government Orbital Debris Mitigation Standard Practices". United States Federal Government. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- Luu, Kim; Sabol, Chris (October 1998). "Effects of perturbations on space debris in supersynchronous storage orbits". Air Force Research Laboratory Technical Reports (AFRL-VS-PS-TR-1998-1093). Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- Frank Zegler and Bernard Kutter, "Evolving to a Depot-Based Space Transportation Architecture", AIAA SPACE 2010 Conference & Exposition, 30 August-2 September 2010, AIAA 2010–8638.
- Lodders, Katharina; Fegley, Bruce (1998). The planetary scientist's companion. Oxford University Press US. pp. 190, 198. ISBN 0-19-511694-1.
- "Trajectory Design" (PDF (5.37Mb)). Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO ). October 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
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