Dr. Akhil Rao, Middlebury College

Evolution of the Satellite Conjunction Network: Behavioral Responses to Expected and Unexpected Events
February 18, 2022


Conjunctions between orbiting satellites are an important determinant of space safety and sustainability. Yet the ways in which the emergent network of conjunctions responds and adapts to expected and unexpected events remains understudied. Using statistical tools from economics and high-frequency conjunction alert data, I study how satellite operators respond to the introduction of automated satellite trains (an expected event) and to an ASAT test (an unexpected event). I document systematic differences between these responses and offer a theoretical framework to explain these responses in terms of rational payoff-maximizing behaviors.


Dr. Akhil Rao

Assistant Professor of Economics and affiliate faculty in the Environmental Studies Program at Middlebury College. He teaches courses on statistics, environmental economics, and space economics. Much of his current research focuses on integrating economic models of forward-looking decisions with engineering models of the orbital environment. Akhil received his Ph.D. in Economics in 2019 from the University of Colorado Boulder. In his free time, he enjoys snowboarding.