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Thread: Will space debris make space exploration impossible

  1. #181
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    The UN has agreed on some guidelines which if adopted by space faring countries would help in minimising the space debris problems.

    http://spacenews.com/un-committee-ap...ty-guidelines/

    A United Nations committee reached agreement last week on nine guidelines intended to reduce the risk of collisions in space and other harmful space activities.

    The non-binding guidelines, approved by a working group of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the UN’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), are intended to improve the long-term sustainability of space. They join 12 other guidelines on the topic approved by the committee in 2016.

    Speaking at the Canadian SmallSat Symposium here Feb. 13, David Kendall, chairman of COPUOS, said the guidelines came out of a long-running effort by the committee to establish guidelines that, while themselves carrying no legal force, can be incorporated into national laws and regulations.

    “The guidelines discussed by the working group recognize the fragility of the space environment and the current and future threats that need to be addressed if we are to ensure that space can be effectively used in the future,” he said.

  2. #182
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    Yet another idea to capture large debris - a space harpoon.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/spa...up-space-junk/

    Space junk is a huge problem. In fact, if we don't do something about the more than 20,000 objects—from defunct satellites to paint chips—that are orbiting Earth, we may one day be unable to leave the planet at all.

    Luckily, scientists are on the case. In the UK, a team at Airbus is developing a charmingly lo-fi method of removing large pieces of junk from orbit: a giant harpoon. The harpoon, which is about a meter long, would be attached via a strong tether to a spacecraft which would follow it as it punctured space trash. The spacecraft would then tow the junk back down to Earth, where it would burn up in the atmosphere.

    To test their invention, the researchers have been shooting their harpoon in the lab, using compressed air, at sheets of metal that are 3 cm thick aluminum composite honeycomb panels.

  3. #183
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Yet another idea to capture large debris - a space harpoon.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/spa...up-space-junk/
    I herd about this a number of years ago now that it would be a problem before now....after never having herd about it again I assumed all the junk was probly there but eventually should be getting cleaned up by earth gravity pulling it in or letting it go and it just heading out to space.

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  4. 2018-Mar-19, 11:44 PM
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  5. #184
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    Another experiment to remove space debris to take place soon.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/spa...up-space-junk/

    On the whole, space is mostly empty, but the space around the Earth is anything but. Earth’s orbit is full of thousands of satellites, pieces of debris, and junk from the thousands of rocket launches over the past few decades. This presents a serious problem for future satellites: Any one of them could be randomly taken out by a flying piece of space junk.

    The only way to solve this problem is to clean up space, but that’s easier said than done. Plenty of organizations, including NASA and the Chinese and Japanese space agencies, have developed their own prototype space debris catchers. On Monday, one such debris catcher, named RemoveDEBRIS, was launched into space and will undergo testing over the next few weeks.

  6. #185
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    Maybe this idea of "space sustainably for future generations" is the way to go.

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/scien...ace-180969212/

    The Outer Space Treaty—written in 1967 and signed by all the major world powers—is the closest thing we have to a constitution for space. For a document conceived before the moon landing, it’s remarkably forward-looking: it declares “celestial bodies” like the moon and asteroids off-limits for private development and requires countries authorize and continually supervise companies’ activities in space. It also says that space exploration should be carried out for the benefit of all peoples, and it explicitly prohibits weapons of mass destruction in space.

    But even with that impressive scope of vision, the treaty’s authors could never have imagined where we’d be now. Currently there are 1,738 man-made satellites in orbit around our planet. As they become more affordable to build and launch—think of them as the drones of low Earth orbit—they’ll no doubt proliferate and vie for valuable real estate there with space stations, space tourists, space colonists, space miners, military spacecraft, and thousands of derelict satellites and other immobile debris.

    So far no one has any idea how to deal with the scientific and engineering challenges—let alone the political, legal, and business ones—involved in sustainably managing orbital debris and mining celestial objects. “There needs to be a path moving forward with economic and science opportunities, but doing it in a way that mitigates damage as much as possible and hopefully with no conflicts,” says Aaron Boley, a planetary physicist at the University of British Columbia.

    That’s why he and at least six other space scientists, policy experts, and legal scholars from Canada, the U.S., the UK, and China are putting together the world’s first Institute for the Sustainable Development of Space—essentially a space-focused think tank. The collaboration of experts from science, policy, and industry sectors aim to find long-term solutions so that future generations of space explorers can continue where today’s leaves off. Building on the original principles of the Outer Space Treaty, applying those same themes of international governance to a new space age.

  7. #186
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Another experiment to remove space debris to take place soon.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/spa...up-space-junk/
    The testing is about to begin

    https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018...l-test-begins/

    The RemoveDEBRIS satellite was deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, marking the business end of the mission that will test – for the first time – new technology aimed at capturing and deorbiting space junk.
    The satellite rode to the ISS in the CRS-14 Dragon, following its launch via a Falcon 9 back in April.

    Built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), the spacecraft is based around the SSTL-42 satellite bus. The mission, which has received funding from the European Union, will see the satellite demonstrate techniques for capturing and deorbiting debris from low Earth orbit.

  8. 2018-Jun-22, 05:16 PM
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  9. #187
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    From the article
    European aerospace giant Airbus designed and built three of the four planned experiments aboard the spacecraft. The debris-catching net experiment, developed at Airbus' site in Bremen, Germany, will be conducted in October, the company said in a statement.
    Those test will be interesting indeed.

  10. #188
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    After the 1st Chinese space station entered earth after an uncontrollable entry we have another man made object coming down to earth. Unlike the Chinese SS which mostly disintegrated, this one is likely to come down in one piece. Why, because the Russians designed it to enter the Venus atmosphere and land in one piece!!!

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/As...Earth_999.html

    A station was unsuccessfully launched as a part of the USSR's space exploration program and has been orbiting the Earth ever since, but the station's deterioration is bringing its "homecoming" closer with each passing year.

    The Kosmos 482 interplanetary station, which was unsuccessfully sent towards Venus in 1972 by the USSR, may crash land on Earth between 2023 and 2025, astronomer and cosmonautics historian Pavel Shubin told Sputnik. He couldn't pinpoint the exact location of the future crash site, but noted that it would be between 52 degrees north and 52 degree south latitude.

    The astronomer has studied the data on Kosmos 482 orbit as well as its deterioration and detected that it started to degrade faster due to it getting closer to Earth and experiencing increased gravitational pull.

  11. #189
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    "When debris overwhelms space"

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Wh...space_999.html

    We see more and more reports of debris concern among satellite operators and space observers. Add to this the many recent announcements of multiple broadband satellite constellations that are being funded and developed for launch in the next few years. Just focusing on low Earth orbits (LEO), there are an estimated 10,000 satellites in the works.

    SpaceX alone plans on launching over 4,000 of these multi-hundred-kilogram spacecraft that are now being built in Redmond, Washington. Add all of the broadband satellites to the hundreds of planned CubeSats and we have a new satellite population that is at least an order of magnitude larger than what is now in LEO. This explosion in population will be accompanied by an explosion in LEO debris. The implications are extremely serious.
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  12. #190
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    Which country has the most amount of space debris?

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Th...Space_999.html

    Considering many people haven't visited Space and it is pretty much untouched, there are many satellites, debris and parts of rocket that orbit our Earth.

    But who does this Space junk actually belong to?

    Well, data from Space Track has allowed RS Components to analyse just how many bits of debris are currently orbiting Earth and which country they belong to.

    In total, there are over 12,000 items in orbit - this just includes items created by humans. Initially, space debris was referred to as the natural debris found in the solar system such as comets, asteroids and fragments off meteoroids. But since Space shuttles are becoming more of a regular occurrence in Space now, the most notable pieces of debris are now from satellites.

    The US has the most amount of debris in Space, with over 4,000 (4,037) items, closely followed by the Russian Commonwealth with 4,035 pieces orbiting.
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  13. #191
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    Want a job as an interplanetary junk collector? Start your road to fame and glory here.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1904.05825

    Dynamical cartography of Earth satellite orbits

    Aaron J. Rosengren, Despoina K. Skoulidou, Kleomenis Tsiganis, George Voyatzis (Submitted on 11 Apr 2019)

    We have carried out a numerical investigation of the coupled gravitational and non-gravitational perturbations acting on Earth satellite orbits in an extensive grid, covering the whole circumterrestrial space, using an appropriately modified version of the SWIFT symplectic integrator, which is suitable for long-term (120 years) integrations of the non-averaged equations of motion. Hence, we characterize the long-term dynamics and the phase-space structure of the Earth-orbiter environment, starting from low altitudes (400 km) and going up to the GEO region and beyond. This investigation was done in the framework of the EC-funded "ReDSHIFT" project, with the purpose of enabling the definition of passive debris removal strategies, based on the use of physical mechanisms inherent in the complex dynamics of the problem (i.e., resonances). Accordingly, the complicated interactions among resonances, generated by different perturbing forces (i.e., lunisolar gravity, solar radiation pressure, tesseral harmonics in the geopotential) are accurately depicted in our results, where we can identify the regions of phase space where the motion is regular and long-term stable and regions for which eccentricity growth and even instability due to chaotic behavior can emerge. The results are presented in an "atlas" of dynamical stability maps for different orbital zones, with a particular focus on the (drag-free) range of semimajor axes, where the perturbing effects of the Earth's oblateness and lunisolar gravity are of comparable order. In some regions, the overlapping of the predominant lunisolar secular and semi-secular resonances furnish a number of interesting disposal hatches at moderate to low eccentricity orbits. All computations were repeated for an increased area-to-mass ratio, simulating the case of a satellite equipped with an on-board, area-augmenting device.

    ===

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1904.05669

    Medium Earth Orbit dynamical survey and its use in passive debris removal

    Despoina K. Skoulidou, Aaron J. Rosengren, Kleomenis Tsiganis, George Voyatzis (Submitted on 11 Apr 2019)

    The Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) region hosts satellites for navigation, communication, and geodetic/space environmental science, among which are the Global Navigation Satellites Systems (GNSS). Safe and efficient removal of debris from MEO is problematic due to the high cost for maneuvers needed to directly reach the Earth (reentry orbits) and the relatively crowded GNSS neighborhood (graveyard orbits). Recent studies have highlighted the complicated secular dynamics in the MEO region, but also the possibility of exploiting these dynamics, for designing removal strategies. In this paper, we present our numerical exploration of the long-term dynamics in MEO, performed with the purpose of unveiling the set of reentry and graveyard solutions that could be reached with maneuvers of reasonable DV cost. We simulated the dynamics over 120-200 years for an extended grid of millions of fictitious MEO satellites that covered all inclinations from 0 to 90deg, using non-averaged equations of motion and a suitable dynamical model that accounted for the principal geopotential terms, 3rd-body perturbations and solar radiation pressure (SRP). We found a sizeable set of usable solutions with reentry times that exceed ~40years, mainly around three specific inclination values: 46deg, 56deg, and 68deg; a result compatible with our understanding of MEO secular dynamics. For DV <= 300 m/s (i.e., achieved if you start from a typical GNSS orbit and target a disposal orbit with e<0.3), reentry times from GNSS altitudes exceed ~70 years, while low-cost (DV ~= 5-35 m/s) graveyard orbits, stable for at lest 200 years, are found for eccentricities up to e~0.018. This investigation was carried out in the framework of the EC-funded "ReDSHIFT" project.
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  14. #192
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    India caused space debris in low earth orbit by conducting an ASAT test on one of their satellites. Now we get news that the US has created new space debris in the geostationary orbits due to one of their satellites (Boeing-built Intelsat communications satellite) malfunctioning.

    Both highlight the need for strengthening the need to have some of global standards for work done in outer space. In India's case, the deliberate destruction of one of their satellites. In the US case, the standards the satellites built to, to lower risk of satellites malfunctioning.

    https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/04/1...tionary-orbit/

    A Boeing-built Intelsat communications satellite launched three years ago is drifting in geostationary orbit after suffering a fuel leak and releasing debris fragments last week, according to an analysis by space surveillance experts.

    Ground-based telescopes operated by ExoAnalytic Solutions, a commercial company that tracks objects in space with a network of optical telescopes, show the Intelsat 29e communications satellite is tumbling, leaking propellant and drifting through the geostationary arc, where numerous communications satellites are stationed more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

    The telescopic imagery also appears to show several pieces of debris came off the satellite last week, according to Bill Therien, executive vice president of engineering at ExoAnalytic Solutions.
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  15. #193
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    Nobody builds a geostationary satellite to low standards. The cost is too high, the required lifespan too long to justify a low quality build. They're all built very well, but that doesn't mean things can't go wrong.

  16. #194
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    Nobody builds a geostationary satellite to low standards. The cost is too high, the required lifespan too long to justify a low quality build. They're all built very well, but that doesn't mean things can't go wrong.
    Not saying they are not built to "high standards" but the a number of geostationary satellites have had failures in recent years. We need to review the specifications and see if safety can be improved even more.
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  17. #195
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    They would if they could. Nobody benefits from a geo sat malfunctioning after 3 years.

  18. #196
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    "The latest lost satellite is now space junk that could put other spacecraft at risk"

    https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/19/1...e-space-debris

    But it’s possible that there are still other tiny pieces of debris that broke off from Intelsat 29e during its weird failure that cannot be seen. If those pieces are smaller than a baseball, then the Space Surveillance Network won’t be able to pick them up because it’s beyond the system’s capabilities. And these objects can still cause damage if they run into a functioning satellite, since they’re moving at super high speeds in orbit. “Collisions are more likely to be on the order of hundreds of miles an hour,” says McDowell. “So more like a highway car crash.” Intelsat could not confirm to The Verge if there were any associated pieces of debris from the accident.

    This isn’t exactly a new problem, though, as Intelsat 29e isn’t the only dead satellite in geostationary orbit. But this region of space is a very precious resource for the aerospace industry. It’s one of the go-to destinations for communication satellites, and if it becomes too cluttered with debris, it won’t be usable anymore. That’s why adding another drifting satellite into this arena is a big concern.
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  19. #197
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    Another explosion in space has added more space debris. This time it was a large Atlas V Centaur upper stage launched 10 years ago.

    http://www.leonarddavid.com/clutteri...tage-explodes/

    A discarded upper stage from a rocket launched nearly a decade ago has fragmented, adding to ongoing growth of orbital debris encircling Earth.

    The large Atlas V Centaur upper stage, for an as-yet-unknown reason, broke up between March 23 – March 25.

    At a recent meeting of space debris specialists, Vladimir Agapov of Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics unveiled the fragmentation event of object 2009-047B, estimated to have taken place on March 25th.
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  20. #198
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    And in which orbit was this? If it was launched 10 years ago, it should have had and end-of-life plan, which for GEO normally means boosting it to an otherwise unused orbit above GEO where the debris doesn't cause too much issues.

  21. #199
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    And in which orbit was this? If it was launched 10 years ago, it should have had and end-of-life plan, which for GEO normally means boosting it to an otherwise unused orbit above GEO where the debris doesn't cause too much issues.
    It is in an eccentric orbit with a low of 6675 km.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-04-rocket...ce-debris.html

    Given the international code 2009-047B, this rocket remnant had been flying in an eccentric orbit around our planet for just under a decade – flung as far as 34 700 km from Earth at the most distant point in its orbit and just 6675 km at the closest.
    Last edited by selvaarchi; 2019-Apr-23 at 11:50 PM.
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  22. #200
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    That's not ideal for a debris event. Better than if it were in a GEO orbit, but still not good.
    Last edited by Nicolas; 2019-Apr-24 at 09:07 AM.

  23. #201
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    I canít imagine why it would fragment after ten years... maybe it hit something else?


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  24. #202
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    If I'm reading this article correctly, it seems like PepsiCola wants the Russians to place a flashing advertisement in orbit:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/...-space/587608/

    Even if the sign is successfully launched (and not shot down by lasers), it will probably be in a low earth orbit and then descend and burn in the atmosphere.

    Any thoughts on orbiting ads? If that isn't space junk, I don't know what is.

    Roy in New Mexico

  25. #203
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I can’t imagine why it would fragment after ten years... maybe it hit something else?
    I recall from my reading that upper-stage boosters have a bad habit of exploding as a result of unused fuel corroding the tanks inside them. Delta upper stages (IIRC) are especially bad at this and have been recorded to explode several years after launch.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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  26. #204
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    Here you go. Three interesting sources on upper-stage explosions in orbit. Looks like batteries explode, too.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...73117797000148

    Explosions in the geostationary orbit
    L.V. Rykhlova, T.V. Kasimenko, A.M. Mikisha, M.A. Smirnov

    Possibilities to detect explosions in the geostationary orbit (GEO) are discussed. Contrary to low Earth orbit (LEO), where fragments of explosions (with dimensions from 1 m to 10 cm) form in the catalogues the majority of observed objects, in the case of GEO the number of observed fragments is less than 1%, due to the limiting observable dimension being 1 m. A method is proposed combining examination of orbital elements changes of passive objects in order to select those having suffered explosion; photometric observations of these objects aimed to study the nature of the explosion and estimation of the energetics of explosion based on these data. The explosion of the upper stage of rocket Titan Transtage 13( 68081E) is studied in detail.

    ===

    http://spaceflight101.com/re-entry/5...-debris-event/

    50-Year Old Rocket Stage Involved in Orbital Debris Event
    April 2, 2017

    The Joint Space Operations Center this week added hundreds of new debris objects to their catalog of objects orbiting Earth, originating from five separate debris events, one of which was previously unknown and involved a 50-year old Delta rocket stage.

    ===

    http://blogs.esa.int/cleanspace/2017...it-explosions/

    SMA valves to prevent in-orbit explosions

    ... Except for a few collisions (less than 10 accidental and intentional events), the majority of the 200 break-ups observed in-orbit were explosions of spacecraft and upper stages – typically due to leftover fuel, material fatigue or pressure increase in batteries. Break-ups account for circa 35% of debris with a further 30% of debris from unidentified sources. In the propulsion systems, break-up occurs due to the internal pressure resulting from the stored energy in propellant and pressurant tanks, in the form of pressurant gas or residual propellants.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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  27. #205
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I canít imagine why it would fragment after ten years... maybe it hit something else?
    Batteries, tanks, thrusters.

    Itís not like nothing is being done to mitigate the problem, standards have been raised to minimize fragmentation or shedding. Read lots about it here: https://orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/ or maybe their quarterly news https://orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/q.../odqnv23i1.pdf

    [...] While the effects of 38% of all breakups have completely disappeared, only 10 of the 5385 space missions flown since 1957 are responsible for 33% of all cataloged artificial Earth satellites presently in orbit. Moreover, the sources of four of these 10 fragmentations were discarded rocket bodies that had operated as designed, but later broke up.
    Modern debris mitigation best practices likely would have prevented these events. The remaining six fragmentations are diverse in character.
    After which it goes on about the collision event and a number of ASAT tests. Of course that doesnít mean there isnít room for improvement.

    Interestingly, this issue does report about a Centaur 5 fragmentation, but that was in 2018. Presumably in about 4 months the quarterly will have more info on this more recent breakup.
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  28. #206
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    I recall from my reading that upper-stage boosters have a bad habit of exploding as a result of unused fuel corroding the tanks inside them. Delta upper stages (IIRC) are especially bad at this and have been recorded to explode several years after launch.
    Briz-Ms too.

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