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Thread: Will space debris make space exploration impossible

  1. #211
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    From this weeks Space Review "Catalyzing space debris removal, salvage, and use"

    https://www.thespacereview.com/article/3847/1

    The authors foresee that, over the next couple of decades, there will be a significant expansion into space. In our estimation, much of industry will eventually move off Earth and millions of people will someday be living and working in space in thriving communities for the benefit of all humans, including those remaining on Earth. Given that level of space activity expansion in both the near and longer term, advanced space projects will greatly benefit from the ability to salvage and re-purpose derelict spacecraft. Safety of navigation will also require that we “dredge the harbor” of dangerous orbiting debris. More specifically, derelict pieces of orbital debris need to be either actively deorbited, repaired, refurbished, repurposed, or recycled in orbit. Debris on planetary surfaces will also have to be dealt with, but less urgently and eventually more easily. In any case, we believe that private commercial contractors tied to a Space Salvage Entity (SSE) could play a major role in carrying out these actions, and crucial to commercial entities carrying out these actions would be multilateral agreements for managing liability risk and compensation.
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  2. #212
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    In a worst case scenario, we could still put up spacecraft in the event of a Kessler Syndrome... but they will be tiny spacecraft.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.01342

    Building Small-Satellites to Live Through the Kessler Effect
    Steven Morad, Himangshu Kalita, Ravi teja Nallapu, Jekan Thangavelautham
    (Submitted on 2 Sep 2019)

    The rapid advancement and miniaturization of spacecraft electronics, sensors, actuators, and power systems have resulted in growing proliferation of small-spacecraft. Coupled with this is the growing number of rocket launches, with left-over debris marking their trail. The space debris problem has also been compounded by test of several satellite killer missiles that have left large remnant debris fields. In this paper, we assume a future in which the Kessler Effect has taken hold and analyze the implications on the design of small-satellites and CubeSats. We use a multiprong approach of surveying the latest technologies, including the ability to sense space debris in orbit, perform obstacle avoidance, have sufficient shielding to take on small impacts and other techniques to mitigate the problem. Detecting and tracking space debris threats on-orbit is expected to be an important approach and we will analyze the latest vision algorithms to perform the detection, followed by quick reaction control systems to perform the avoidance. Alternately there may be scenarios where the debris is too small to track and avoid. In this case, the spacecraft will need passive mitigation measures to survive the impact. Based on these conditions, we develop a strawman design of a small spacecraft to mitigate these challenges. Based upon this study, we identify if there is sufficient present-day COTS technology to mitigate or shield satellites from the problem. We conclude by outlining technology pathways that need to be advanced now to best prepare ourselves for the worst-case eventuality of Kessler Effect taking hold in the upper altitudes of Low Earth Orbit.
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  3. #213
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    I reckon this question really underestimates the size of space. In LEO, the debris decays rapidly, in higher orbits, ok, its an issue. but beyond that, space is huge. Satellite operators have an interest in not losing their satellites, some caution and regulation is needed but it's not going make space impossible to access.

    Also, if it becomes a problem, we can fix it. Anything that can be tracked can be intercepted. I think there's a realistic business model to intercept space junk, and/or micrometeorites with cubesats and recycle the material in space. The only reason that's not being done is that there isn't a market for it yet.

  4. #214
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    Russian Fregat upper stage explodes in Earth orbit 2 days ago, 65 debris pieces

    https://phys.org/news/2020-05-russia...bit-space.html
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  5. #215
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    Large Long March booster reenters atmosphere, one of largest space debris chunks to fall ever.

    https://www.livescience.com/long-mar...led-crash.html
    https://arstechnica.com/science/2020...ut-15-minutes/
    Last edited by Roger E. Moore; 2020-May-13 at 12:16 AM.
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  6. #216
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcoose81 View Post
    I reckon this question really underestimates the size of space. In LEO, the debris decays rapidly, in higher orbits, ok, its an issue. but beyond that, space is huge. Satellite operators have an interest in not losing their satellites, some caution and regulation is needed but it's not going make space impossible to access.
    But, launches from existing sites happen along certain common orbital paths, which are already jammed with small debris. It only takes a paint chip to pierce a fuel tank at those speeds.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  7. #217
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcoose81 View Post
    I reckon this question really underestimates the size of space. In LEO, the debris decays rapidly, in higher orbits, ok, its an issue. but beyond that, space is huge. Satellite operators have an interest in not losing their satellites, some caution and regulation is needed but it's not going make space impossible to access.
    But, launches from existing sites happen along certain common orbital paths, which are already jammed with small debris. It only takes a paint chip to pierce a fuel tank at those speeds.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  8. #218
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Lots off good words by the major players of doing something but !!! The latest spacereview has an article from a recent conference on the subject.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2663/1
    China got a lot of flake for the 2007 anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test. Could not find at that time when the USA carried out their first equivalent test. Turns out it was in in 1962 that the USA carried out a test that seriously damage three satellites. This was at the altitude the International Space Station orbits at today.

    https://www.spacewar.com/reports/US_...grams_999.html

    However, nuclear weapons continued to be explored as anti-satellite weapons, especially after the 1958 Hardtack Teak test, detonated 47 miles up, demonstrated the destructive effects of an electromagnetic pulse at high altitudes. Four years later, the Starfish Prime test saw the US detonate a nuclear weapon 250 miles up - the same altitude the International Space Station orbits at today - and seriously damage three satellites.
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  9. #219
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    ESA on - "The current state of space debris"

    http://www.esa.int/Safety_Security/S...f_space_debris

    Swirling fragments of past space endeavours are trapped in orbit around Earth, threatening our future in space. Over time, the number, mass and area of these debris objects grows steadily, boosting the risk to functioning satellites.

    ESA’s Space Debris Office constantly monitors this ever-evolving debris situation, and every year publishes a report on the current state of the debris environment.
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  10. #220
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    ESA on - "The current state of space debris"

    http://www.esa.int/Safety_Security/S...f_space_debris

    Swirling fragments of past space endeavours are trapped in orbit around Earth, threatening our future in space. Over time, the number, mass and area of these debris objects grows steadily, boosting the risk to functioning satellites.

    ESA’s Space Debris Office constantly monitors this ever-evolving debris situation, and every year publishes a report on the current state of the debris environment.
    I am because we are
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  11. #221
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    "Upper stages top list of most dangerous space debris"

    https://spacenews.com/upper-stages-t...-space-debris/

    However, many upper stages from launches decades ago remain in low Earth orbit and continue to pose a problem. In a presentation at the 71st International Astronautical Congress this week, Darren McKnight of Centauri presented an analysis of the 50 “statistically most concerning” debris objects in low Earth orbit.

    That list was developed by combining 11 separate analyses by 19 authors, who used different approaches for ranking based on criteria such as the mass of the objects, the probability of collision and persistence of their orbits. Those analysis were combined into a single master list.

    The top 20 objects in that master list are all a single class of upper stages known as SL-16, from the Zenit family of rockets. The stages are all large and are in similar orbits, raising the risk of collision, McKnight noted. The highest ranked satellite, ESA’s Envisat, which malfunctioned before it could be deorbited, is 21st on the list.

    Overall, 78% of the objects on the list are rocket bodies, and 80% of the objects were launched before 2000, when countries started adopting orbital debris mitigation guidelines. “These are really lingering problems from early in the Space Age,” he said.

    The development of the top-50 list can support future efforts to mitigate the risk through active debris removal. McKnight said that the risks of many of these objects are coupled to others on the list. “If you remove one, the other one may drop way down on the list,” he said. “We don’t have to take them all out. We can reduce their risk enough by taking one selectively out.”
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  12. #222
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Space debris can make future space missions impossible

    http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/ene...cle5791922.ece
    I started this tread 6 years ago with the above. We still have talk and no action. As the following article concludes - "Unfortunately, the world economy cannot afford to do nothing. The real choice is to either pay for space sustainability now or pay much more later."

    https://www.spacedaily.com/reports/T..._2021_999.html

    We are all aware of the growing amount of junk floating around Earth in low orbits. Ultimately, the mass and distribution of junk and active satellites will exceed the capacity of space to safely contain the debris generated by the addition of more than 40,000 new satellites planned for deployment in the next few years. When we have reached this limit our ability to travel in space will be greatly diminished.

    When will this happen? No one knows the answer, but It could be soon. As the space capacity limit is reached there will be a noticeable increase in disabled spacecraft due to debris collisions.
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  13. #223
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    Now at last we have the 1st move to start the process to remove space debris - "Astroscale Announces March 2021 Launch Date for World’s First Commercial Active Debris Removal Demonstration Mission"

    https://astroscale.com/astroscale-an...ation-mission/

    November 18, 2020 – Astroscale Holdings Inc. (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in securing long-term orbital sustainability, today announced that its End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission will launch on a Soyuz rocket operated by GK Launch Services from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, in March 2021.

    “We now have the launch in our sights,” says Seita Iizuka, ELSA-d Project Manager. “Publicly announcing this significant milestone is possible thanks to years of teamwork. The ELSA-d program demonstrates complex and innovative capabilities that will support satellite operators in realizing options for their post-mission disposal strategies and establish Astroscale as a global leader in the on-orbit servicing market.”
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  14. #224
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    It is getting crowed up there as the latest incident illustrates.

    https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...w/79452277.cms

    India's remote sensing satellite CARTOSAT-2F is "dangerously close" to a Russian earth observation satellite (Kanopus-V) in the near earth orbit, and space agencies of both countries are monitoring them closely.
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  15. #225
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    The two satellites are in the exact same orbit?? Same orbital angle, apogee, perigee, etc?

  16. #226
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    Congestion in space — especially the explosive growth in space debris — has created an increasingly dangerous environment for our astronauts and satellites in orbit.

    https://spacenews.com/op-ed-protecti...-space-debris/
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

  17. #227
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    U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker has done an excellent Op-ed piece in SPACENEWS on space debris. Only part I wish he had not looked at it as a USA responsibility but a world one. The USA has done a great job monitoring space debris for USA customers but also for the rest of the world.

    It is time the rest should also do their fair share and contribute to this effort. Each of the major should have a focus group to handle space debris. Much like what the Department of Commerce would play in the USA. The UN group on space could play a coordinating role.

    https://spacenews.com/op-ed-protecti...-space-debris/

    On Nov. 2, the United States and its International Space Station partner nations celebrated 20 years of humans continuously living and working in outer space. Much has changed in the space environment over the past two decades, but one thing is clear: congestion in space — especially the explosive growth in space debris — has created an increasingly dangerous environment for our astronauts and satellites in orbit.

    Policymaking needs to catch up to the reality of “heavy traffic” in the space domain. Congress should start by transferring the authority to carry out critical nondefense space situational awareness (SSA) activities from the Department of Defense to the Department of Commerce.

    Putting Commerce in charge of debris tracking and warning notifications for civil, commercial, and international space actors would better leverage the department’s expertise in handling data and interfacing with innovative commercial space businesses. At a time of rising military competition in space, transferring these authorities would also free up DoD to focus its limited resources on its national security mission.
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  18. #228
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    QUOTE: We are already heading down a path to space pollution that is hard to correct. Accordingly, we must act now and with urgency to preserve this important scarce resource for future generations.

    https://spacenews.com/op-ed-building...ustainability/
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

  19. #229
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    Another example of a potential space collision that was avoided. What happens if the space debris is too small to track?

    https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/a...884137,00.html

    “We typically get two or three alerts like this a month, we check everything and move our satellite due to a risk of it crashing on average once a year,” said a Venus systems engineer, whose name was undisclosed as well. “This time we checked and concluded that we needed to alter its trajectory. On one hand, we received a warning five days in advance, while on the other hand, similarly to a big ship, changing its trajectory is a slow process. You want to start such a maneuver as early as possible, so that you can conduct it while using the least amount of fuel possible, since fuel consumption shortens the satellite’s lifespan.”


    After the team finished altering the satellite’s trajectory, it passed on the updated trajectory course to the French space agency, who would further verify the calculations, and then to NASA, who would be updated on Venus's altered flight path. Only after the U.S. approved, did the Venus satellite receive the final instructions to change course, merely three days ahead of the potential collision time
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  20. #230
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    Turning a rocket's second stage into a space laboratory - debris no more! Nanoracks has been working on a program called Outpost, which aims to modify a rocket’s upper stage after it’s done with its primary mission. It then becomes a miniature space station for scientific research, fuel resupply and even space tourism.

    https://observer.com/2020/12/rocket-...ion-nanoracks/
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

  21. #231
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    If space junk would eventually surround the planet in so much speeding space junk that swathes of space will become inaccessible - it could be some kinda shield protecting from the alien's invasion.But I don't think that space junk could be such a danger as they announce. We just will have to set the way for the next space missions more carefully.

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