"The upcoming Space Industry Bill, due for discussion by the House of Lords next week, forms part of that strategy to tighten Blighty's governmental grip on the cosmos"
Blighty's defence boffins are now spending £10m per year on space research, including a satellite mission set for blast-off in 2019. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) is spending a total of £50m over the next five years on space "innovation", in particular for two space-related projects. One of these is the …
During second reading of the Bill on 12 July 2017, a wide-ranging discussion took place on issues including the UK's membership of the European Space Agency, private ownership of civilian space flight operations and use of Scottish locations for UK spaceports.
The use of Scotland for spaceports exemplifies typical UK government thinking, i.e. let's not launch near the Equator using the perfect base that we own (Ascension Island) - let's just use Scotland instead
There's a big. long and flat runway on the end of the Kintyre Peninsula. It was the designated overfly landing site for the Shuttle. It is the preferred launch site for the space plane if it ever gets off the ground.
It is remote and flat enough that Musk could land one of his rockets on it.
So we already have the infrastructure. Also Glasgow has a thriving satellite design and build industry so we are players in the Space Industry. iScotland and present Scotland can do space too, it is not a conspiracy.
Yours a hard campaigner with RIC and staunch advocate for Independence.
It is remote and flat enough that Musk could land one of his rockets on it.
Not about landing.
UK has no interest in rocketry, once again we're leading the world in aviation technology only this time we won't have to give it away to buy the US into a world war.
The equator argument involves invalid suppositions about what's happening here. We don't need to save fuel because we're not leaving the atmosphere the silly way. By the way you know you can fly to the equator and then burn fuel into space right?
The problem with Ascension (or St. Helena for that matter) is the time & cost of transporting all the equipment and other resources.
I've said it before, we should go full super-villain and hollow out the Rock of Gibraltar and launch from there. It's near the equator and has good transport links and being near the sea it's easy to keep the shark tanks full. Another advantage is it would really piss the Spanish off.
"The use of Scotland for spaceports exemplifies typical UK government thinking, i.e. let's not launch near the Equator using the perfect base that we own (Ascension Island) - let's just use Scotland instead"
Not to mention the possibility of a Scotxit. Don't forget the fuss over the entire nuclear submarine deterrent being based in Scotland.
"Currently, space junk is destroyed by firing rockets at it."
Are El Reg's journos now deliberately trying to troll its readers? It's difficult to believe that's an honest mistake.
Anyway, hitting a piece of 'space junk' with a rocket, whether it relies just upon kinetic energy or has an explosive warhead, will not destroy the item of space junk; it will just turn that single item of space junk in to many items of smaller and more difficult to track space junk, spread out over a greater volume of space.
I think El Reg is referring to the Chinese test of an anti-satellite missile against one of their defunct satellites, which almost doubled the amount of space junk up there. The US was also planning on downing one of their malfunctioning spy-sats, but I can't remember if they went through with that.
The Chinese test of which you refer took place in early 2007, so hardly current. And as you point out, it more or less doubled the amount of junk in orbit. The Chinese weren't the first to do this though; the U.S. carried out a similar test in 1985, although the satellite in the U.S. test was at a lower orbit and the last 'catalogued' bit of debris had de-orbited by 2008. However, I don't think anyone really knows how many uncatalogued (smaller) pieces of debris remain from the U.S. test - these would have been scattered further than the larger catalogued pieces.
And yes, the U.S. did shoot down one of its NRO satellites in 2008, but this was at an altitude of just ~150 miles, so most of that junk will have de-orbited by now.
Of course, no discussion of space junk would be complete without mention of project West Ford.
Doesn't that require ferrous material to work, though, and most space junk is non-ferrous?
Also, the convert into heat part presents another problem: how to get rid of it. Without a solid or gaseous outlet for the thermal energy (meaning conduction and convection are out), the only way out is via radiation, which is actually pretty difficult in space and is a known issue with spacecraft design.
Isn't that supposed to head to Barnard's Star, not clean up space-junk?
This re-using of names for space-stuff get's confusing. I also get confused every time Orion is mentioned, my first thought is the nuclear bomb propelled version, not the more recent project.
For cleaning up space junk of the "paint flake" kind, how about a device consisting of a core that has an expanded metal honeycomb shell surrounded by polyurethane foam (the stuff you use to seal door frames)?
Let it sweep around the earth for a few thousand orbits gathering microcrap, then drop back for a meteoric re-entry. Some stuff would be too fast due to wrong orbital vector wrt the crapcollector mk1, or too big to stop of course, but you'd be aiming for several missions with different orbits over a number of years to clean out the fog of microstuff making life difficult.
I envisage something several hundred feet in diameter that gets assembled/piped in orbit (ISS?) and then boosted to where it can do the most good.
No doubt this is a stupid idea for reasons I haven't thought of. Must ask the NASA bods when I'm next in the area.
One big problem with any kind of "foam" approach. Do you know of any substance that retains its foam properties at near absolute zero? Most of that stuff turns very brittle when it gets very cold, meaning you end up with a spalling effect. One chunk of space junk goes in. Cloud of ice-cold frozen foam fragments spray out.
Do you know of any substance that retains its foam properties at near absolute zero?
Not a problem, the vacuum of space would have burst the foam long before it got that cold.
Aerogels have been deployed in space to collect dust particles but it has low structural integrity and needs a metal frame for just a small chunk, a large piece if it survived the launch would probably fall apart upon deployment, also it's ridiculously expensive to make.
You can't put something huge like that into orbit, there's not just junk up there but also a myriad of operating satellites you really don't want to mess with. Any deorbiting has to be accurately targetted.
Why would you think poly foam needs air? The foaming agent could be solid - glass beads for example. Why would you assume a foaming gas couldn't be supplied at the low psi required? As for the cold, we know how to get round that long enough to get the shell made, and I expect that NASA can find some material that can stay flexible enough at low temperatures (although the collisions with crap will generate heat).
You lot weren't thinking the idea was working off the sticky, were you? Not aerogel, rigid foam.
Item only cold when in shadow. Insolation will keep it warm most of the orbit.
Metal frame - missed the expanded metal honeycomb bit in the original post?
Also, not launched into orbit, fabricated there as per the original post.
But thanks for pointing out some of the challenges.
Presumably now we are out of Europe we no longer have to work with those solidly stubborn Germans or smelly French. So we can go and do our own stuff in our own way, like in the good ol' days. There were good ol' days, right?
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