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Space Science

Satellite Collision Debris May Hamper Space Launch 131

Posted by timothy
from the install-cowcatchers dept.
Matt_dk writes "The debris from a recent collision involving two communications satellites could pose a serious threat for future launches of spacecraft into a geostationary orbit, a Russian scientist said on Friday. Future launches will have to be adjusted with regard to the fact that the debris [from the collision] has spread over an 800-km area and will gather at a common orbit in 5-6 years."
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Satellite Collision Debris May Hamper Space Launch

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  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @08:34PM (#26945441) Homepage
    Unfortunately, this is not Star Trek, where we can just point some magical energy beam at something and "vaporize" it, rendering it harmless. We have to deal with Real Physics here, especially energy constraints. How much energy does do you think it takes to boil a few hundred kilograms of iron? Do you think we have anything remotely like that which we could feasibly launch into orbit? What do you think happens when it inevitably cools?
  • Re:Geostationairy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 21, 2009 @08:40PM (#26945473)

    What am I missing?

    When they collided at those speeds the debris flew in all directions so I guess enough of it entered lower orbits to cause problems.

    Although... how it makes that much difference with all the thousands of other bits of junk out there I dont know.

    How long until we really have something like in the anime PlanetES to clean up all the junk out there? I guess it'll happen after someone gets sued for junk they left behind.

  • Re:Geostationairy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Digicrat (973598) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @09:21PM (#26945689)

    Precisely. If this is a problem for geo launches, then the same likely applies to future interplanetary launches (Lunar missions, Mars landers, etc.) as well.

    Of course, what we really need is a simple deflector shield to protect our ships . . .

  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @09:26PM (#26945707)
    Sharks can't fly, though, and they would have to be smart enough to aim taking into account the refractive index difference between the seawater and the air.

    Maybe if we used flying fish with frickin' lasers strapped to their heads...
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @11:12PM (#26946179) Journal
    the last thing that you want to do is break up something about 6" around into 1" pieces. Can not track it. OTH, a laser CAN be used to slow down pieces with relatively little energy, which will take it out of orbit MUCH faster. Though to be honest, I would think that at this time, the companies and govs should instead pay to have their sats deorbited and THEN worry about the little stuff. That way, it avoids this issues.

Power corrupts. And atomic power corrupts atomically.

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