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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Mon Jun 24, 2019, 07:17 PM

1. We're littering space just like we've littered the oceans.

What could possibly go wrong when space is beginning to look like a junkyard and Walmart parking lot combined with a demolition derby on Saturday night?

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_debris

As of 5 July 2016, the United States Strategic Command tracked a total of 17,852 artificial objects in orbit above the Earth, including 1,419 operational satellites. However, these are just objects large enough to be tracked. As of January 2019, more than 128 million bits of debris smaller than 1 cm (0.4 in), about 900,000 pieces of debris 110 cm, and around 34,000 of pieces larger than 10 cm were estimated to be in orbit around the Earth. Collisions with debris have become a hazard to spacecraft; they cause damage akin to sandblasting, especially to solar panels and optics like telescopes or star trackers that cannot be covered with a ballistic Whipple shield (unless it is transparent).

Below 2,000 km (1,200 mi) Earth-altitude, pieces of debris are denser than meteoroids; most are dust from solid rocket motors, surface erosion debris like paint flakes, and frozen coolant from RORSAT (nuclear-powered satellites). For comparison, the International Space Station orbits in the 300400 kilometres (190250 mi) range, and the 2009 satellite collision and 2007 antisat test occurred at 800 to 900 kilometres (500 to 560 mi) altitude. The ISS has Whipple shielding; however, known debris with a collision chance over 1/10,000 are avoided by maneuvering the station.

The Kessler syndrome, a runaway chain reaction of collisions exponentially increasing the amount of debris, has been hypothesized to ensue beyond a critical density. This could affect useful polar-orbiting bands, increases the cost of protection for spacecraft missions and could destroy live satellites.

Eventually, many of these recent satellites will become just debris.


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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Zorro Jun 2019 OP
LineNew Reply We're littering space just like we've littered the oceans.
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 2019 #1
GulfCoast66 Jun 2019 #3
KY_EnviroGuy Jun 2019 #4
Gore1FL Jun 2019 #2
machoneman Jun 2019 #5
scipan Jun 2019 #6
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