I couldn't find a good tag for the disabling, neutralization, or passivation of a spacecraft at EOM, or some subsystem thereof when no longer needed, when posting the question Have all of InSight's engines/thrusters been permanently disabled now that it has landed?. Any thoughts?


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The description is currently

Questions related to extending the lifetime, and determining when the useful period of a satellite has ended.

In addition to what is written above in this meta question, @uhoh makes a good point that there is no good tag for "EOM-associated activities. EOM is a moment in time, or a system status."

I also think the current definition is too narrowly-written for satellites. Landers and rovers should be fair game.

I am proposing changing the definition of to

Questions related to the lifetime or end-of-mission of a spacecraft. This may include determining when the useful period has ended, extending the lifetime, and safely disabling/passivating/disposing it.

I welcome concerns or improvements to this proposed definition. In particular, we want this distinctive from the tag, but I'm not sure how to word that.


I'd go for . While a lot of it occurs at EoM, it is a separate process, and could occur to subsystems long before EoM of an object -- e.g Skylon venting it's launch tanks after achieving orbit.

As a downside, it has a different meaning in chemistry, and that meaning may apply to aspects of plumbing.

The early Apollo Applications Program documents talked of passivating between launch and commencement of orbital operations

  • $\begingroup$ Passivization, to my mind, is a subset of end of mission activities. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Dec 3 '18 at 13:10
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that is where most passivation occurs, @RussellBorogove, but not the only place. Arguably, the subsystems to which it occurs have reached the end of their mission. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Dec 3 '18 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ Passivization also refers to material handling processes during construction of spacecraft (among other things), so it could lead to some ambiguity. $\endgroup$ – Tristan Dec 4 '18 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ That was what I was referring to with "plumbing" @Tristan $\endgroup$ – JCRM Dec 5 '18 at 9:38
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps "safing" might be more relevant? Passivization is also used on structural elements. $\endgroup$ – Tristan Dec 5 '18 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ Feel free to suggest it in an answer @Tristan -- I'd use it in a reversible context though, pre-launch. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Dec 5 '18 at 16:50

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