Open access and orbital stability

Does open access lead to stable steady states? — Under open access, aggregate orbital stocks will tend toward a steady state where present costs and future benefits are balanced. But will this steady state always be stable? If the cost of launching falls low enough, the answer is no. Even if economic fundamentals are unchanging, the launch rate can be high enough to generate fluctuations in aggregate orbital stocks. Picture an economic gold rush for orbit use, with lots of firms launching satellites and creating debris. Some collisions are likely to occur, generating even more debris.

Each point is a long-run (t=1000) debris level. The x-axis shows the cost of purchasing and launching a satellite as a multiple of the per-period return it generates.