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Space Junk

Posted by: Nova - Sun Jul 11, 2004 10:04 am
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Space Junk 
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Post Space Junk   Posted on: Sun Jul 11, 2004 10:04 am
I don't remember this being brought up before but since looking at Interorbital's LEO (Low Earth Orbit) ambitions I have been wondering what the problems could be that have been left over from the agencies, namely Space Junk.

Figures show that there is a lot of it out there and it's a growing problem (btw this is the most recent GOOD article I could find!):
http://www.space.com/spacewatch/space_junk.html

I know that 100km has only just been achieved but the potential problems will need to be considered before private companies run regular flights to higher altitudes.

As space opens up to the private sector there is all the more risk of a collision with such material. What could the companies do to overcome this?

I know that nobody wants the new industry to be OVER-regulated but should there be a requirement imposed stopping the private companies from inheriting the "throw-it-way" attitude of the agencies? More importantly should the agencies such as NASA et al be ordered to clean up there act to make space tourism safer?


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Post    Posted on: Sun Jul 11, 2004 10:16 pm
I think nasa should totally clean up the mess. They created it, after all, along with all the other space agencies. It's thier responsibility. Good luck trying to actually get them to do it though.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 12, 2004 5:56 am
Electrolyte wrote:
I think nasa should totally clean up the mess. They created it, after all, along with all the other space agencies. It's thier responsibility. Good luck trying to actually get them to do it though.


This gets into the issue of private property rights. If nobody owns an orbit, then there is usually no concern about pollution and in this case space junk. If orbits or sectors of space were owned and had established private property rights, then a company like InterOrbital would offer to clear the junk left by NASA or whoever to make that orbit safer and more useful. :D

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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 12, 2004 7:07 am
It might be sufficient to establish property rights on non-polluted state of obirts and on safetyness of orbits instead of property rights on orbits themselves.

This property rights established as public rights might be given authority by establish a private property right to take the space junk objects and make use of them. Then it will be interesting for private space firms to gather space junk objects - they don't pay for them if nobody claims to be the owner of such an object and requires any price. In the best case, the private firms will use the objects to build stations in orbit or additional spacecrafts designed to stay in space and not to land on earth or to construct something additional. This will reduce the launches required for further development of private space activities and reduce the costs required for reaching this purpose.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 12, 2004 12:10 pm
Just thinking aloud here, could we make a huge sticky ball, and hurl it into a hideous orbit that could sweep up a lot of the smaller stuff? Okay, maybe that's a simplistic explanation. I was thinking of a reinforced foam object with quite large dimensions. As it orbits the earth, anything hitting it will penetrate to an extent, then be stopped. If you gave this big mop a decaying orbit, then it'd eventually after a year or so, burn up in the atmosphere. And another one could be fizzed up to replace it.

Of course, you could always just mount one on the front of the ISS. It could mop up that orbital space lane. It's a start at least.

Anybody know the rate of incidents involving space debris?

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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 12, 2004 12:57 pm
I have been thinking of a similar idea a few time ago, but if possible I would like solutions prohibiting the burn-up of anything - what already is in space doesn't need to be brought there by launching vehicles und should be used there, if possible. Even if it is small.

So I would prefer something similar like your sticky ball, Sean, but to collect objects instead of to destroy them.

What might be used to collect objects?



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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 12, 2004 1:07 pm
Same thing I guess. Except that you'd have to intercept it and boost it up to a higher safer orbit. Collect them all togather untill the facilities exist to emlt them down into useful component materials. I suspect that their usefulness is low. At the very least, we could use several hundred tonnes of the scrap as a counterweight for a space elevator.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 12, 2004 2:01 pm
Additional to your question after the rate of incidents - what may be the greatest size of an object that could be handled this way? What's the size requiring spacecrafts to collect the object? Which is the smallest size to locate by radar?



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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 12, 2004 3:44 pm
And why don't they (who ever that might be) put a small radar in orbit? Attach the new radar module to the ISS, and you'll have a pretty good idea how much junk is out there.

What am I saying? Aren't there lot's of satelites up there with radar abilities?

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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 12, 2004 6:07 pm
Lol, well there are those satelites but it's pretty easy to track debris from ground based stations.

As for the rate of collisions it is obviously quite low at the moment (however there have been many reports of space debris hitting people/property when it falls back down :shock: ). I do remember however, a report saying that the ISS has about a 19% chance of suffering a penetrative hit over ten years :( . I can't corroborate that though, I can't find where I saw it!

The idea of a junk sponge, I like it!!! :D perhaps that new material, aerogel (or whatever it's called) which the stardust probe used could be adapted?


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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 12, 2004 8:11 pm
aerogel is cool stuff, and i like it. how about a very powerful electromagnet encased in a hell of a lot of aerogel, flying around in an orbit where it won't fry any satellites, and mopping up all the junk, then someone goes out and gets the junk, repairs the aerogel, and moves it to a different orbit.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jul 13, 2004 8:36 am
Dunno if the magnet would work. Which is a shame, cos a Buggs Bunny ACME Magnet would solve everything. Ha!

Is this Aerogel able to be produced on site, or would it have to be shipped up complete.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:11 am


Last edited by CzarDerivative on Sun Sep 16, 2007 10:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 23, 2004 11:17 am
A magnet may be one of several insturments to collect the smaller objects.

What energy source would be the best? And what materials for wire and the magnet itself? ...

It should all easyly to be lifted into space and to be moved between the orbits. Or might it be better to set it to an eliiptical orbit?



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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 23, 2004 11:25 am
Of course it might just be easier to install the Aerogel on the vulnerable surfaces of your satellite, space station or whatever. Your space station can then both protect it's self and mop up at the same time.

That flec of paint that damaged the shuttle window would be unaffected by any magnetic system. The range of influence of a magnet is extremely limited, and quite frankly unworkable (in my opinion). Weight and power certainly seem to limit it too. Nope, we're going to have to think of something else.

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