Re: I recall an incident
@rh587 au contraire - we found that gold a long time ago (well ok, not THAT long ago)...
The space-disaster movie Gravity – where an escalating wave of space debris wipes out a space station and shuttle – now looks like a slightly more plausible scenario. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has pulled permission from Silicon Valley startup Swarm Technologies to launch four satellites into space after what …
But the agency that monitors for space objects can officially deny those.
"Boss, I've detected something that doesn't officially exist"
"Correct, that doesn't exist"
"It doesn't exist?"
"Correct, I'm glad you understand me. Carry on."
They work with the military and the FCC (or at least staff within the FCC with clearance) know where the mystery satellites are but not what they can do. The military when moving a satellite need to know that their stuff isn't going to be hit by a commercial satellite not because they care about the commercial satellites, they don't, but they do care about their own stuff and don't want to break it.
"or at least staff within the FCC with clearance"
Indeed, back in the day, when I worked with a bunch of astronomers and satellite tecchies, I had trouble compiling a version of 'Satellite Toolkit' to install on our Solaris boxes,... it was the early days of the Internet, I put a shout out on a few forums, and I got contacted by a guy that wrote some of it, and he hadn't realised it had been declassified. He was ex-Marine Corps when he contributed. I downloaded my copy from NASA, and it seems at that point, there were two catalogues, one for general distribution, and one that contained everything.
The four comsat launched in this exercise are about the same size as a 1 unit cubesat (10cm cube) of which literally hundreds are on orbit. Per international agreement (United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) these either require deorbit thrusters or an orbital altitude low enough that drag will cause reentry at most 25years after their 3-4 year service life is up. Generally, small SATs below about 600km will decay in that timeframe.
The problem with cubesat is that you hitch a ride and therefore do not necessarily know at design inception bahere you are going to be. A significant number have ended up in orbits with decay times over a century:
So I wonder if the real issue is whether some damned fool put these in meo or geo, thereby burning a perfectly good orbital slot allocation.
Note that the worst debris problems up there now are due to China scragging a weather sat testing an ASAT system and the Russian satellite bonking into an Iridium sat. Other than that mess most space debris is due to booster upper stages breaking apart, separation debris, etc
It's all very well the USA slinging it's junk into space, whether bribing Pai or not, but what of those countries whose budgets can stretch only to smaller devices?
Satellite coverage of the USA can, in many cases, be achieved by terrestrial fibre cables whereas there are many countries where communications can only be achieved by satellite. Take Republic of Indonesia with 17,504 (officially listed) islands. How else can so many points be covered other than by satellite?
Anyone listening to entertainment satellite traffic knows how much spectrum and space real estate is wasted. How many people listen to I LOVE LUCY (circa 1951)? Aficionados are well catered to, even today.
The USA has many space monsters, the size of double-decker buses, two of which are circulating around the Korean peninsula. Perhaps KIM Il-Jun can switch from nuclear to concrete and knock out these things and make room for others with lofty goals.
*There are more countries but not all are recognised.
Possibly (another) good argument for improving space surveillance capabilities. It would be good in any case to track the smaller stuff; if your payload is hit by an object a few centimeters across, it can ruin your day quite as thoroughly as one ten centimeters across. Quite aside from non-US companies, being able to launch and track smaller satellites would help everybody.
Allowing/encouraging smaller payloads would actually improve the space debris problem, in that smaller objects decay faster. (Of course, smaller payloads would also mean you could launch more of them, so the net benefit/drawback might go either way.)
The US FCC does not have a say on what can be launched from the US and its colonies. That is the job of NASA and, even, the FAA.
The FAA does not have any say on what is launched from India. It is hard for US "official" bodies to understand but the rest of the world (over 95% of it then) does not have to follow the whims of extremely dodgy US bureaucrats. Sometimes they may choose to cooperate with the USA. That is their free right.
As for the FCC. They have proven their irrelevance to their own title by their recent activity of trying to destroy a working internet so that their owning corporations can increase their profits at the expense of everyone else. With that level of incompetence, they need to be kept out of space!
Satellite orbits are a shared and finite resource, even more so than the frequency spectrum.
International coordination is key and due to the wavelengths of ground-based tracking radar, objects put into space need to display a minimum cross-section from all angles. While there are volunteer COSPAR tracking stations all over the world, NORAD probably still does most of the routine space debris tracking tasks.
As I have possibly independently developed a way to generate antimatter in bulk for the drive via some improvisation inspired by efforts at CERN, it might be possible to harness most of it from the solar wind or inner Van Allen belts once in orbit. This avoids many problems, and if the antimatter storage unit can be modified to be refueled in flight (tricky but doable) using a magnetic conduit then it may just work.
see paper to be released. Would presenting at M3 be a bit too esoteric, as the technology does tangentially use AI for physics optimization tasks.
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