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Space Junk

Steve Pace

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This image from NASA shows the current amount of orbiting spacecraft and debris. I guess we need to build a garbage-hauling spacecraft to haul a great deal of this space junk to a dump. -SP
 

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Demon Lord Razgriz

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Nah, we just need to get all the janitors in the world to pay for that laser broom to sweep the heavens of humanity's garbage.
 

Nik

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A radar reflector inside BIG blobs of aerogel in a net: SplatNiks !!

FWIW, a space station has ideal conditions for manufacturing such: Free heat, free cold, high vacuum...

Plus, they'd make fair 'bumpers' for the ISS as the hazard count rises...
 

TomcatViP

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riggerrob

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I can for see a comedy, science-fiction series about a merry band of orbital space junk salvagers.
Perhaps they were stranded in orbit after earth-based launch facilities fail, quit, sabotaged ...
Hah!
Hah!
 

edwest2

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An uncontrolled reentry. Well, unless there's some international law against it, that describes the fate of boosters. And aside from attempts to reuse boosters, the technology hasn't changed much.
 

Archibald

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Let's suppose somebody invented a technology that could grab old satellites, put them in a heatshield and drop that on Earth for recycling the precious metals.
Who is proprietary of, say, an old Soviet military satellite dead since 1973 ? Russia ? Could they protest the recovery of such an old wreck ?

Imagine all the metals orbiting Earth...
 

Dilandu

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Who is proprietary of, say, an old Soviet military satellite dead since 1973 ? Russia ? Could they protest the recovery of such an old wreck ?
Yes, they would. Derelict spacecraft still considered full property of the nation that launched it. The "Outer Space Treaty", "Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects" and "Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space" firmly establish such position.

The supposed salvage company would thus need to negotiate the transfer of ownership rights - or hire itself into service of derelict-owner nation, as part of space-cleaning effort.
 

Archibald

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Who is proprietary of, say, an old Soviet military satellite dead since 1973 ? Russia ? Could they protest the recovery of such an old wreck ?
Yes, they would. Derelict spacecraft still considered full property of the nation that launched it. The "Outer Space Treaty", "Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects" and "Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space" firmly establish such position.

The supposed salvage company would thus need to negotiate the transfer of ownership rights - or hire itself into service of derelict-owner nation, as part of space-cleaning effort.

Ah, good to know. I find this rule a little silly - I mean, does present day Russia cares about Kosmos 666 or Kosmos 69 in any way ? But ok, they launched it, it belonged to them, and this applies to the dead hulk floating in space.

Well if it was an American company it could at least start cleaning up dead American satellites.
 

Dilandu

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I find this rule a little silly

Not at all, if you consider that those rules were made during Cold War. When A - those dead satellites were brand-new and filled with state-of-art, secret technology, and B - both sides suspected that other would stole the secret satellite without much remorse, if figured out how to do it legal-ish. Even now, there are probably quite a lot of still secret tech in derelict military satellites, that would their owner would be VERY unhappy if fell into other hands.
 

Dilandu

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Well if it was an American company it could at least start cleaning up dead American satellites.

Well, this is clearly legal. Of course, there might be hidden legal problems: for example, is derelict communication satellite still a property of company that owned it before? But they are simpler to overcame.
 

Archibald

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How many dead comsats are in the GEO graveyards ? some hundreds ?
 

TomcatViP

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We need regulations. Means we need an incentive to abandon ownership rights past a certain delay (= high taxes) or for recovering a launch sat by yourself or via a contractor (=low tax).

Also, ideally, it should be mandatory that all plans, hardware drawings and software usage should be made public* past a certain delay (decades?) to prevent potentially deadly accidents during recovery and harvesting processes and allow for direct re-use of sub-components.

At commercial level, 10 or 20 years is centuries in term of technological gap and depreciation in value.

*or at least available to registered recycling companies.
 
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Archibald

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A radar reflector inside BIG blobs of aerogel in a net: SplatNiks !!

FWIW, a space station has ideal conditions for manufacturing such: Free heat, free cold, high vacuum...

Plus, they'd make fair 'bumpers' for the ISS as the hazard count rises...

I have this weird idea of a modified rocket stage (think Transtage, Agena, Fregat, Briz-M or Block D : no LH2 ) refueling at a LEO station and then ascending to GEO empty; catching a derelict comsat in the graveyard orbit(s) there, and bringing it back down to the LEO station via aerobraking.

Once in LEO, start recycling.

Alternatively, bring it down to Earth via a Skylon or a Starship, and recycle it on Earth solid ground.

Rinse, repeat, until the GEO graveyard is empty.

Imagine all the components and precious metals in those old communication satellites... it's time for the "great space harvest" to start.

And it can only improve the space junk growing issue...

 

Flyaway

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And someone just championed all previous performances. Shame on them (this kind of prehistoric launch profile should not be tolerated from a state run agency):
Here’s a report regarding where the last stage ended up.

Ivory Coast villagers in shock after they find a debris that fell from the sky
View: https://youtu.be/rStfHuSBQ7E
 

Dilandu

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We need regulations. Means we need an incentive to abandon ownership rights past a certain delay (= high taxes) or for recovering a launch sat by yourself or via a contractor (=low tax).

The second is more likely, because, again, abandoning ownership rights means security problems.

Also, ideally, it should be mandatory that all plans, hardware drawings and software usage should be made public* past a certain delay (decades?) to prevent potentially deadly accidents during recovery and harvesting processes and allow for direct re-use of sub-components.

Erm, "for some reason" no one is very enthusiastic about, say, making public domain the blueprints for Mark-III atom bomb) Despite the fact, that they are more than 75 years old) Military security of different nations have their own protocols about releasing such materials.
 

Archibald

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I did some calculations using this excellent website.


I got 118 Hughes "300-series" communication satellites with a total weight of 114 metric tons.

Of course some of them are military, others are foreigns (Palapa, Japan, Anik...) so take that with a pinch of salt.
 

TomcatViP

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… the burdens on spacecraft design that rocket launches impose, resulting in new and exciting possibilities in space.

If you design a satellite that was manufactured in orbit … we estimate that maybe 80% of the mass of a satellite being launched is there to support the launch loads, so that’s a significant component to how spacecraft are designed today… So if we can design satellites that are manufactured, assembled in orbit, can completely change the economics of those assets.

 

Flyaway

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… the burdens on spacecraft design that rocket launches impose, resulting in new and exciting possibilities in space.

If you design a satellite that was manufactured in orbit … we estimate that maybe 80% of the mass of a satellite being launched is there to support the launch loads, so that’s a significant component to how spacecraft are designed today… So if we can design satellites that are manufactured, assembled in orbit, can completely change the economics of those assets.

Existing thread below. Though I think it’s probably in the wrong section.

 

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