orbital-debris   24

The quest to conquer Earth’s space junk problem, Nature news, Sep 2018
"Zombie satellites, rocket shards and collision debris are creating major traffic risks in orbits around the planet. Researchers are working to reduce the threats posed by more than 20,000 objects in space. "

(great animation from ESA, and Nature infographic)

"Several teams are trying to improve methods for assessing what is in orbit, so that satellite operators can work more efficiently in ever-more-crowded space. Some researchers are now starting to compile a massive data set that includes the best possible information on where everything is in orbit. Others are developing taxonomies of space junk — working out how to measure properties such as the shape and size of an object, so that satellite operators know how much to worry about what’s coming their way. And several investigators are identifying special orbits that satellites could be moved into after they finish their missions so they burn up in the atmosphere quickly, helping to clean up space. "
space  orbital-debris  space-junk  animation  visualization  infographics  NatureJournal 
12 days ago by pierredv
We could find advanced aliens by looking for their space junk | New Scientist Mar 2018
"Technologically advanced aliens could be revealed by the space junk around their planets."

"Many satellites work best in geosynchronous orbits, where the satellite matches the planet’s rotation so it stays over the same general location on the surface. This is key for surveillance and telecommunications satellites. These orbits are all at about the same altitude – on Earth, around 35,800 kilometres up. So, geosynchronous satellites form a ring around the planet, known as the Clarke belt.

Socas-Navarro calculated that the opacity of Earth’s Clarke belt has increased exponentially over the past 15 years. He found that if this trend continues, it will be observable from nearby alien worlds around the year 2200."
orbital-debris  space-debris  space-junk  NewScientist  GEO 
22 days ago by pierredv
Commercial space bill clears Senate committee - SpaceNews.com Aug 2018
"The Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill Aug. 1 that would streamline commercial launch and remote sensing regulations but also includes language conflicting with a House bill. The committee favorably reported S. 3277, the Space Frontier Act of 2018, on a voice vote without any members speaking out against it. "

"The revised version leaves in place a section that gives the Department of Transportation, though the Federal Aviation Administration, the ability to use the payload review portion of the launch licensing process to authorize non-traditional space activities that are not overseen by other agencies. "

"The second [approved amendment], by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), calls on the U.S. government to develop “consistent standards across Federal agencies” to minimize the risks posed by orbital debris. "
SpaceNews  legislation  space  commerce  orbital-debris 
11 weeks ago by pierredv
President to sign space traffic management policy - SpaceNews.com June 2018
"One of the most significant parts of that policy is transferring responsibility for providing “space safety data and services,” including warnings of potential collisions, from the Defense Department to the Commerce Department. The Defense Department will retain the role of maintaining the “authoritative catalog” of space objects, offering the “releasable” part of it to Commerce to provide those services."

"That shift, though, will take time, with Pace estimating it would take a “few years” to set up that transfer of responsibility from Defense to Commerce."

"NASA, Pace said, will lead efforts to update orbital debris mitigation guidelines. Commerce will also work on plans for an “open data repository” for space situational awareness data from commercial and international sources to augment the information from the Defense Department’s catalog. The Commerce Department, along with Defense and Transportation, will develop standards and best practices for pre-launch risk assessments and on-orbit collision assessments. The State Department will lead work on “international transparency” in space traffic management, including development of non-binding guidelines."
SpaceNews  STM  orbital-debris  DoC  NASA  DoT  StateDept 
june 2018 by pierredv
Muddling through space traffic management - SpaceNews.com Sep 2017
"Experts continue to propose alternative terms that may be more technically precise, but consistently fail to catch on with policymakers or the public. And at its core, space traffic management is a “super wicked” public policy problem that involves balancing an indefinable set of technical, legal, and economic variables; conflicting interests and worldviews of many stakeholders; and a complex political environment with diffuse responsibilities and authorities. But with estimates of 16,000 or more satellites on the drawing board to be launched in the next decade, it is not a problem we can continue to kick down the road."

Recommendations
1. "needs to be a decision on whether the U.S. military will continue to provide all of the space situational awareness (SSA) data and services for the world"
2. "needs to be a decision on how such a civil SSA entity will leverage private sector capabilities for its mission"
3. "needs to be a link between civil SSA and the ongoing efforts to modernize U.S. government oversight of private sector space activities"
4. "needs to be an appropriate international component"
5. "needs to determine what principles it wants to promote internationally as the foundation of space governance for the future"
SpaceNews  orbital-debris  Brian-Weeden  STM  wicked-problems 
june 2018 by pierredv
Space Fence on Kwajalein will allow Air Force to monitor debris, threats - Pacific - Stripes Apr 2017
"The Air Force Space Surveillance System, which shut down in 2013 after 50 years, tracked about 20,000 objects. Space Fence, a tracking system being built by Lockheed Martin on the remote South Pacific island of Kwajalein, is expected to be able to track 200,000."

"Space Fence will be able to detect objects as small as marbles at the roughly 250-mile height of the International Space Station. Such a small speck of debris might sound benign, but NASA has replaced space shuttle windows damaged by flying paint flecks."
space  USAF  orbital-debris  SSA  LockheedMartin  radar 
may 2018 by pierredv
The Curious Case of the Rogue 'SpaceBee' Satellites - The Atlantic,May 2018
"The SpaceBee is a prototype satellite from Swarm Technologies, a start-up founded in 2016 and based in Los Altos, California. There is little publicly available information about Swarm. According to Mark Harris, the reporter at IEEE Spectrum who first broke the story about the satellites’ unauthorized launch, the company is in stealth mode"

"As of April, there are 589 nanosatellites in orbit—satellites with masses between one kilogram and 10 kilograms (2.2 pounds to 22 pounds), according to a comprehensive database run by Erik Kulu, a spacecraft systems engineer in Glasgow"

"Lockheed Martin is currently building a radar system that would allow the Space Surveillance Network to track smaller objects than is possible now. The program is expected to be finished by the end of this year. "
theAtlantic  satellite  Space  orbital-debris  space-debris  FCC  nanosatellites  cubesats 
may 2018 by pierredv
AGI establishes commercial deep space radar tracking system - SpaceNews.com
"AGI and Thoth Technology said they have set up a radar system on a 46-meter antenna at the Algonquin Radio Observatory in Ontario. The system is capable of tracking objects out to distances of 50,000 kilometers, and can detect objects about two meters across on GEO."

“We want to get down to 20 centimeters or less.”

"Johnson said that combining the radar observations with existing optical observations of GEO belt objects improves the accuracy of positions of those objects to 150 meters, compared to 250 meters using optical observations alone"
SpaceNews  AGI  SSA  space  radar  GEO  orbital-debris 
may 2018 by pierredv
Defense Department turning over space traffic management to Commerce, but details still unclear - SpaceNews.com May 2018
"Although there is overall agreement on the transfer of responsibilities, the specifics of who will do what may take years to sort out. DoD has deep expertise in “space situational awareness,” or SSA, whereas Commerce faces a steep learning curve."

"DoD holds the SSA authority and public service responsibility under section 2274 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code"

"The chairman’s mark of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act unveiled on Monday includes language that lays a path for the implementation."

"The space catalog is maintained by the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, which is part of U.S. Strategic Command. The center operates the Space Surveillance Network, a worldwide system of ground-based radars along with ground-based and orbital telescopes."

"There are 1,500 active satellites on orbit today. DoD monitors about 20,000 objects in space that are 10 cm or larger."

"There are still questions on who will perform specific duties such as operating sensors, Loverro noted. When there are two satellites coming close to each other, somebody has to “task” a sensor to go take measurements and calculate distances between objects."
SSA  STM  DoD  DoC  space  legislation  orbital-debris 
may 2018 by pierredv
NASA-STD-8719.14 - Process for Limiting Orbital Debris - NASA Technical Standards System (NTSS)
Process for Limiting Orbital Debris (Revision A with Change 1 of 5/25/2012)

Document Scope:
This document serves as a companion to NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 8715.6 and provides specific requirements and methods to comply with the NASA requirements for limiting orbital debris generation. NASA-Standard (NASA-STD) 8719.14 updates NASA Safety Standard (NSS) 1740.14, which went into effect in August 1995. This NASA-STD helps ensure that spacecraft and launch vehicles meet acceptable standards for limiting orbital debris generation.
URL for document provided
orbital-debris  NASA 
april 2018 by pierredv
Pence Promises New Space Traffic Management Policy Soon – SpacePolicyOnline.com April 2018
"Vice President Mike Pence announced today that the National Space Council will soon present to the President a new policy on Space Traffic Management. The need to manage the growing congestion in Earth orbit has been discussed for years. Many expected the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would be assigned the task, but Pence revealed that it will be the Department of Commerce instead."

"In their simplest definitions, knowing where a space object is and, if it is maneuverable, where it is going, is Space Situational Awareness (SSA) while having authority to direct an agency or company to move a satellite is Space Traffic Management (STM)."

"DOD has indicated for some time that it would like to shift SSA responsibility for civil government and commercial operators to another government agency so JSPoC can focus on its primary mission of supporting military requirements."

"No agency has responsibility for STM yet."

Pence "reiterated the Administration’s proposal to end direct support for the International Space Station (ISS) in 2025 and thereafter rely on the commercial sector to operate low Earth orbit (LEO) facilities that NASA can lease instead of own: “where the government will be a tenant and a customer, not a landlord.”"
space  STM  space-traffic-management  DoC  FAA  orbital-debris  JSPoC  DoD 
april 2018 by pierredv
Commercial Technologies for Enhanced Space Traffic Management - advertising
" JSpOC has provided this data at no-cost to U.S. satellite owner-operators as well as international commercial and government entities for nearly 20 years. "
orbital-debris 
april 2018 by pierredv
The FCC’s Big Problem with Small Satellites - IEEE Spectrum Apr 2018
"The FCC was worried about collisions in space, where even the smallest objects traveling at orbital velocities can inflict massive damage on satellites or, in a worst-case scenario, manned spacecraft. It thought Swarm’s SpaceBees satellites, measuring 10 by 10 by 2.5 cm, would be just too small to track."

"An investigation by IEEE Spectrum has revealed that the FCC licensed multiple satellites smaller than 10 cm over the past five years, including some as small as 3.5 by 3.5 by 0.2 cm. But the commission has also changed its mind from one application to the next, refusing launch permission for satellites that were virtually identical to ones previously authorized. This uncertainty has led to at least one satellite maker exporting his technology rather than risk being denied a license in the U.S."

"Launching a kilogram payload to low earth orbit (LEO) currently costs at least $3000. "

"Eventually, NASA adopted KickSat-2 as an official NASA mission. Due to a regulatory quirk, NASA’s own satellites are overseen by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) rather than the FCC. KickSat-2 is now slated for launch late this year or early next. "

"Last summer, the London-based Breakthrough launched six Sprites on a German satellite from an Indian launch vehicle, far outside the FCC’s jurisdiction. Germany has no minimum size regulations for satellites."
IEEE-Spectrum  space  FCC  orbital-debris  tracking  cubesats  NASA 
april 2018 by pierredv
RemoveDebris Mission to Test Concepts for Cleaning up Space - Via Satellite - Apr 2018
the University of Surrey. The university’s RemoveDebris satellite — funded by the European Commission and 10 commercial partners including Airbus and Ariane Group — will conduct a series of tests to demonstrate technologies that can be used to observe and capture orbital debris.

According to the University of Surrey, the first of two capture experiments will discharge a net at a deployed target CubeSat, while the second will launch a harpoon at a target plate made of representative satellite panel materials. The third experiment will leverage vision-based navigation to rendezvous with another CubeSat using cameras and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR). The RemoveDebris spacecraft will then deploy a large dragsail to demonstrate accelerated de-orbiting, after which it will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
ViaSatellite  orbital-debris  space-junk 
april 2018 by pierredv
FCC approves SpaceX constellation, denies waiver for easier deployment deadline - SpaceNews.com Mar 2018
"accepted SpaceX’s application to reach U.S customers with a megaconstellation of 4,425 broadband satellites, but denied the company’s request to relax the deadline by which it must have its entire constellation in orbit. [FCC] also said SpaceX’s approval is conditioned on an updated de-orbit plan, since the sheer number of satellites envisioned by SpaceX’s “Starlink” constellation goes far beyond what current guidelines consider manageable."

"NASA, which said a constellation as large as SpaceX’s likely needs to meet more stringent standards than what NASA recommends for de-orbit reliability. NASA’s reliability standard is that at least 90 percent of satellites can deorbit properly after their mission is complete."
SpaceNews  SpaceX  FCC  NASA  orbital-debris  NGSO 
march 2018 by pierredv
Megaconstellations: Recipe for Disaster or Biggest Opportunity Yet? | Via Satellite, April 2018
"within this enthusiasm for large, powerful LEO constellations and the applications they’ll deliver, the voices of caution are growing louder, tempering much of the fervor around pushing fleets of fresh satellites into the skies. Some of the biggest concerns orbit around the topic of space debris"

"Since 2014, space industry consulting firm Northern Sky Research (NSR) has tracked $2.1 billion in investments for broadband megaconstellations (such as LeoSat and OneWeb), plus an additional $1.5 billion in SpaceX. Additionally, since 2016, NSR has tracked $23.7 million invested in satellite Internet of Things (IOT) startups. "

"Over the last several years, the company has spent more than $3 billion on a massive undertaking — refreshing the company’s existing fleet of satellites with a new constellation known as Iridium Next, an architecture consisting of 66 small, interconnected mobile satellites (plus nine on-orbit spares and six ground spares), which will reportedly cover 100 percent of the Earth’s surface, including oceans and polar regions. "

"One of the younger companies in this space, LeoSat Enterprises, is positioning itself as filling the space between traditional satellite and fiber-optic networks."

"But while LEO possesses latency advantages, Steve Collar [SES O3b mPower] says the cost of deployment is too prohibitive. SES plans to launch seven next-generation MEO satellites in 2021"

"The University of Southampton's debris simulation model, Debris Analysis and Monitoring Architecture to the GEO Environment (DAMAGE), offers scientists a glimpse of the worst-case scenario — whereupon a hypothetical large constellation operator disregards existing space debris mitigation guidelines, leading to series of collisions."

"While international guidelines currently recommend that operators remove spacecraft from LEO within 25 years of the end of the life of the spacecraft, Holger Krag [ESA's Space Debris Office] reportedly told attendees at 2017’s European Conference on Space Debris that only 60 percent of operators actually do that."

"a growing number of startups whose business case is based on their power to mitigate debris [e.g. Singapore-based Astroscale] raised $25 million [in 2017, for a] total raise to $53 million"
orbital-debris  ViaSatellite  LEO  satellite  space  LeoSat  Iridium  IoT  SES  NSR  investing 
march 2018 by pierredv
Space situational awareness experts urge Russia to join orbital neighborhood watch - SpaceNews.com Mar 2018
"To prevent collisions in space, nations with advanced orbital monitoring abilities need to share data with each other. Russia, being skilled in space situational awareness (SSA), should be part of the global effort to protect the space environment, experts said March 15 at the Satellite 2018 conference here."

"Neither Roscosmos, nor Russia’s two largest satellite telecom operators, the Russian Satellite Communications Company and Gazprom Space Systems, are SDA members."
SpaceNews  SSA  orbital-debris  space-debris  SpaceSituationalAwareness  SWF  SDA  JSpOC 
march 2018 by pierredv
The FCC says a space startup launched four tiny satellites into orbit without permission - The Verge Mar 2018
Even though both the FCC and FAA can consider space debris during the licensing process, the two agencies do not have full authority over what companies do in space. “At the moment no US entity has oversight over on-orbit activities,” says Weeden. “It’s all done pre-launch licensing.” In fact, this is a good illustration of a strange regulatory gap that’s plagued the space industry: there’s no framework in place for how the government will oversee ambitious commercial missions in orbit.
FCC  FAA  space  Brian-Weeden  orbital-debris  space-debris  TheVerge 
march 2018 by pierredv

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