The Space Junk Agency we need

TomcatViP

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Is space junk illegal?​

Technically, no. There’s no law that forbids pieces of rocket from crashing to Earth’s surface. But there are rules that dictate who is responsible when it comes to damage or injury from space junk.

According to Christopher Johnson, the space law advisor for Secure World Foundation, there are two key articles that explain this: the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and 1972 Space Liability Convention. The Outer Space Treaty defines what international players are legally allowed to do in space, and the Liability Convention elaborates on who’s responsible for space objects that cause damage or harm.

“Liability for damage is not a finding that the state has somehow broken the law, but merely that it is answerable for the damage that results,” Johnson says, “and that a binding duty to pay compensation for that damage now exists for that state.”

Many countries—including the U.S., much of Europe, and China—have accepted the terms of the Liability Convention. This means that hypothetically, if part of this particular Long March 5B rocket caused damage in one of the countries signed onto the Liability Convention, that country could choose to invoke it and hold China financially responsible. That’s all theoretical; in reality, it’s not that simple.

Michael Listner, founder and principal at Space Law & Policy Solutions, says that invoking the Liability Convention is a political decision rather than a legal one.

 

Grey Havoc

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Archibald

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Such things never happened with Ariane 5 core (EPC), which is very similar... not even when launching ATVs to the ISS.

See attached... I though solid-fuel boosters and/or upper stage would make a difference; in fact, no.

No Ariane 5 core ever made it to orbit and threatened the world with an uncontrolled reentry.
 

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JacopCooper

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SpaceX offering Starship for space cleanup services:
“Not only will it decrease the costs of access to space, it’s the vehicle that would transport people from Earth to Mars,” Shotwell said in an interview with Time’s technology columnist Patrick Lucas Austin. “But it also has the capability of taking cargo and crew at the same time, and so it’s quite possible that we could leverage Starship to go to some of these dead rocket bodies — other people’s rocket’s, of course — basically pick up some of this junk in outer space.”
It would be good to take full advantage of Starship. I couldn't even think that this spacecraft can come in handy in cleaning LEO from space debris.
 

Archibald

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Elonly live twice

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FTB8TgvgUk


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ftN0zqHtn0



2ca3ff2185524a09fe76354057134e1f.jpg
 

TomcatViP

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The funniest part b/w the two versions is that Russians cosmonauts are captured together (when the US crew got separated). It illustrates well the the feeling of that time that if anything went wrong, even if abducted by aliens, you'd better not be alone to correlate your testimony in front of the political commissar!
 
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TomcatViP

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About space debris mitigation measures and how the Space Force tries to contact any users of a satellite that will potentially cross the path of known debris:
Space Force Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson said the USSF’s 18th Space Control Squadron does “that deconfliction” anytime it’s aware of such a close approach. Then John Hill, who is performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for space policy, added that while most space operators “are very glad to engage with us … there are two countries that often don’t pick up the phone or answer the email.” He later specified that he meant China and Russia.

Kelly had assumed the DOD would have a “direct line” to a Russian agency, for example, in such an event. “So, they don’t respond when there’s a conjunction?” Kelly asked incredulously.

“We have established communications in some circumstances—it’s not 100 percent” radio silence, Hill said, not specifying whether he meant China, Russia, or both. “We end up having to use diplomatic channels, and it’s a much more complicated process.”

 

Archibald

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Space debris starts to harm more and more significant objects in orbit... It's a sign that space agencies need to handle this problem asap.

And Elon Musk is right in the middle of the storm. On one side, he inevitably makes LEO more crowded with Starlink (although he tries to mitigates risk).

On the other, Starship large cargo and maneuvering capability in orbit may provide a radical solution to clean all the dead crap - "You only live twice" style: a giant spaceship swallowing tiny satellites...
 

JacopCooper

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Space debris starts to harm more and more significant objects in orbit... It's a sign that space agencies need to handle this problem asap.

And Elon Musk is right in the middle of the storm. On one side, he inevitably makes LEO more crowded with Starlink (although he tries to mitigates risk).

On the other, Starship large cargo and maneuvering capability in orbit may provide a radical solution to clean all the dead crap - "You only live twice" style: a giant spaceship swallowing tiny satellites...
I understand that Elon might be glad to avoid placing satellites to the LEO, but we all understand that they are irreplaceable means of communication and Earth observation now. That's why I don't want to blame him for it.
 

Archibald

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Space debris starts to harm more and more significant objects in orbit... It's a sign that space agencies need to handle this problem asap.

It has long been a problem. One of the most absurd examples relates to a french experimental ELINT military satellite called "CERISE" launched many years ago.
It was crippled by a space debris which was identified as (the irony) a fragment of an Ariane HM-7 third stage that had launched a SPOT satellite in polar orbit in the 80's, and then exploded in a cloud of debris.

 

Archibald

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Space debris starts to harm more and more significant objects in orbit... It's a sign that space agencies need to handle this problem asap.

And Elon Musk is right in the middle of the storm. On one side, he inevitably makes LEO more crowded with Starlink (although he tries to mitigates risk).

On the other, Starship large cargo and maneuvering capability in orbit may provide a radical solution to clean all the dead crap - "You only live twice" style: a giant spaceship swallowing tiny satellites...
I understand that Elon might be glad to avoid placing satellites to the LEO, but we all understand that they are irreplaceable means of communication and Earth observation now. That's why I don't want to blame him for it.

Oh, I don't blame Musk. He needs a cash cow to feed his Mars program; and on the other, people wants 5G to watch high broadband videos on their smartphones, anytime, anywhere. Including in places were ground networks simply can't do the job. I wouldn't call this need "irreplaceable", however.

The price to pay for this is that LEO is getting crowded, even with mitigations...
 

Moose

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Space debris starts to harm more and more significant objects in orbit... It's a sign that space agencies need to handle this problem asap.

And Elon Musk is right in the middle of the storm. On one side, he inevitably makes LEO more crowded with Starlink (although he tries to mitigates risk).

On the other, Starship large cargo and maneuvering capability in orbit may provide a radical solution to clean all the dead crap - "You only live twice" style: a giant spaceship swallowing tiny satellites...
While a fun image, the sheer volume of orbital maneuvering needed to put a meaningful dent in space debris makes any chemical rocket option a problematic choice. I'd rather have Starship loft a fleet of junk-sweeping solar electric tugs than try to chase down and chomp space debris itself.
 

TomcatViP

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US Space Force concurs with the idea for a private service and a takeover of the mission by the Dept of Commerce :

“We need to pick up debris. We need trash trucks. We need things to go make debris go away,” [Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, vice commander of the Space Force’s Space Operations Command] said in a keynote at the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies, or AMOS, Conference here Sept. 15. “I think there is a use case for industry to go after that as a service-based opportunity.”
[...]
She supported efforts to transfer civil space traffic management to the Commerce Department. “We, as the Department of Defense, look forward to the Department of Commerce taking on this mission and standing up,” she said. “We stand shoulder to shoulder to help them to do that and to be successful.”

 
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publiusr

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Looks like Wozniak is getting in the space debris removal biz.

Glad to see the Woz interested in space…
 

TomcatViP

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The prospects of having a commercial space station is seriously put in trouble with the increase of incidents like that:

 

TomcatViP

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Beyond the grossly hidden agenda against LEO constellations mitigating some of their long projected plans, a path toward a consensual approach on Space Junks?

 

Josh_TN

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That's a bit of a glass house they are posting from considering the altitude of the 2007 ASAT test and the number of objects it created.
 

TomcatViP

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A strong industry push (that IMOHO would perfectly fit inside the long debated infrastructure bill) :

President Joe Biden’s nominee for DoD assistant secretary of space policy, John Plumb, in his confirmation hearing Thursday, called space traffic management “absolutely essential” and pledged to help make the transfer of responsibility happen.
[...]
“One of the most important things that the government could do is that 28% of the debris in Low Earth Orbit was created by the US government. A lot of this was, you know, part of winning the Cold War. And like many other environmental messes that were made in winning the Cold War, this one should be cleaned up too,” Jonathan Goff, vice president of on-orbit servicing at exploration startup Voyager Space Holdings, said Thursday during a town-hall-style virtual meeting on space debris sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“If the US Navy had a derelict ship sitting in sovereign waters creating a safety hazard, the Navy would go out and grab that ship…
[...]
“That that kind of responsibility has been around for seafaring nations for decades. And I’m not sure why we don’t see the same responsibility in government for their derelict ships and their derelict bodies that are in space today.”

 

TomcatViP

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From SpaceWerx:
1.On-Orbit Object Approach: Approach and rendezvous with the Resident Space Object (RSO), to include space debris, etc., using approach and Rendezvous Proximity Operations (RPO) algorithms

2. On-Orbit Object Acquisition: Capture and Control the orbital object and/or perform Rendezvous Proximity Operations Docking (RPOD)

3. On-Orbit Object Service: Remediate the RSO by repairing, repositioning, refueling, deorbiting, reusing or recycling, etc.
 
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The K2

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I am sorry, but this discussion reminded me of an old TV show called “Quark” (attached is a screenshot of the space garbage ship).

Seriously, nothing will be done until someone dies.
 

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Josh_TN

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I think orbit clearing will happen as soon as it becomes cost effective to perform, and I think SpaceX is making enough progress bringing down to-orbit costs that we could see that happen this decade.
 

The K2

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I agree with you, and hope it happens soon. But let me rephrase my last statement: clearing the space debris will not be a high priority until someone dies as a result of it. Cynical, but I believe is true.
 
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Josh_TN

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I think the loss of a high priority satellite or two would be enough once costs come down, but certainly a hit to the ISS would press the need home. All other human activity in space is sufficiently fleeting in significantly small platforms that the probability seem extremely low compared to the threat to satellites.
 

TomcatViP

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Yet another catastrophic multiplication of in orbit debrits:

McDowell says there are at least 64 ullage motors currently in orbit. Further, this isn’t the first one to explode.


old russian rocket motor joins already outrageous amount of space debris around Earth
According to tweets from McDowell, at least 54 of the ullage motors have exploded over the years. Russia also refers to these old Russian rocket motors as SOZ motors. SOZ is short for “Sistema Obespecheniya Zapuska.” That translates roughly to “Launch Assurance System”.

The name makes sense. However, what doesn’t make sense is that we still have so many of these motors orbiting Earth, waiting to make new clouds of debris.

The old Russian Motor that just exploded was making its way around Earth in an elliptical orbit. At its closest point, it would get within 241 miles of Earth. At its furthest point, the Russian rocket motor would be 11,852 miles away from Earth. Because of this orbit, the debris field will take a while to reenter Earth’s atmosphere.

 
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