Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Debris Misses ISS (Space Junk Updates)

This is a computer generated image of object population that is in geosynchronous region around 22,236 miles above Earth. On March 24 the crew of the ISS had to seek shelter in their spacecraft in the event that a small piece of the Kosmos 2251 satellite might be on a collision course with ISS.  This remnant of space debris was caused by a collision in Feb 10 2009 with the dormant 2251 satellite and a operational iridium 33 communications satellite (accidents happen).  But this has added 2,000 trackable items to the orbital debris catalog. 
It was estimated that the miss distance was between 6 to 8 miles now that's a good distance but if impact ever happens this will be major.  

When the two satellites collided the impact was at 26,170 mph the collision created a debris cloud and has made space missions hazardous at an orbit of 930 miles.  A report in 2011 by the National Research Council warned NASA that the amount of space debris orbiting Earth is at a critical level.  We're at a tipping point with enough currently in orbit to continually collide and create even more debris raising the risk of spacecraft failures.  The last Russian failed launch to the ISS was caused by debris hit.  We got junk up there from 1958 and will stay in orbit for 240 years.  NASA needs clean up ideas, got any? 

Boeing is working on a design which is being patented,  a satellite would launch and depicting the orbit needed for inception would release a cloud of gas in the path of other dead satellites allowing them to slow down and de-orbit.  If we don't come up with something soon, we will not be able to launch into space.     

Kessler Syndrome

In a historical overview written in early 2009, Kessler summed up the situation bluntly:

"Aggressive space activities without adequate safeguards could significantly shorten the time between collisions and produce an intolerable hazard to future spacecraft. Some of the most environmentally dangerous activities in space include large constellations such as those initially proposed by the Strategic Defense Initiative in the mid-1980s, large structures such as those considered in the late-1970s for building solar power stations in Earth orbit, and anti-satellite warfare using systems tested by the USSR, the U.S., and China over the past 30 years. Such aggressive activities could set up a situation where a single satellite failure could lead to cascading failures of many satellites in a period of time much shorter than years".

This past Oct on the 31st the ISS had to maneuver with the aid of the Progress M-16M thrusters, in avoidance of debris once again of Iridium 33 communications satellite. The maneuver was successful,  but can you imagine being up there if the ISS ever does indeed gets hit,  all hell is going to break lose.  More debris is coming all the time, the French, China, India, Russia, U.S. and now private companies are all launching satellites into orbit, man it won't be long.


Space Junk 3D - TEASER

Quick teaser for new giant screen film, Space Junk 3D. A Melrae Pictures Production. Directed by Melissa Butts, Produced by Kimberly Rowe and Melissa Butts.


Space Junk 3D TRAILER

Trailer for new film for Giant Screen, Digital and IMAX theaters. Available in 3D and 2D. Opening January 2012.


How and What to Do

We lost power to The Bird Sir!
Credit: ESA

 Experts have estimated that there are 29,000 objects 10 cm or larger orbiting Earth.  Only 7 percent are working satellites.  The European Space Agency is looking at ways to mitigate the threat.

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