Logistical challenges of avoiding collisions between satellites and sleighs

As the festive season approaches, the activity at Northpole Oyj has kicked into high gear. But with nearly 2 billion children to reach, and only 26 hours (accounting for time zones) in which to do his deliveries, every micro-second counts for Santa.

In recent years, however, a new constraint has made itself felt that complicates matter even more – the launch of large numbers of low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Circling the earth at between 150 and 2,000 km, LEO satellites overlap widely with Santa’s flight path. Their number has increased dramatically over the last decade, and these now make up over 85% of all active satellites.

With so many objects in near Earth space – including millions of pieces of space debris – the risk of a collision is far from negligible. To avoid collision Father Christmas needs to consider how well he knows the actual location of satellites where he will be flying, and consider his manoeuvring capabilities and strategy to make his deliveries in the 26-hour window. This short note discusses how Santa may be tackling this issue to ensure that all can enjoy a Merry Christmas.