Near collision with Musk's Starlink satellite

RJM Corbet

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Here we go. It's only been a few months since the launch of Musk's first batch of 60 Starlink satellites. What's it going to be like up there when there are thousands of them zooming around?


Musk is starting to turn space into a real-life video game.
 
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RJM Corbet

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I guess they're not using the auto pilot software.
They don't seem to have any rules of the road up there yet:

"Terrestrial forms of transport have long dealt with the "what to do when you're about to crash into someone else" problem. At sea, the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions (COLREGs) say "turn right" if you're running head on into someone else. Aircraft must also turn right if they're in an imminent collision situation.

As for space, it'll evidently take a few years for people to agree on what to do when expensive and delicate items whizzing around in orbit start coming closer and closer together ..."

I
had no idea the full 12000 would be operative so soon:

"Starlink is planned to grow to become a 12,000-strong fleet within the next nine months ..."
 
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RJM Corbet

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"Starlink is planned to grow to become a 12,000-strong fleet within the next nine months ..."
This information is wrong. The figure is 2000 SpaceX modules by the end of 2019:

",,, SpaceX plans to use its Starlink satellite network to deliver broadband internet access to Earth and deployed 60 of them earlier this year. That’s just the beginning, though. Elon Musk and company plan to have around 2,000 satellites in space by the end of 2019. Eventually, the SpaceX “mega constellation” will include more than 12,000 satellites. SpaceX isn’t the only company planning to launch large fleets of satellites, either. Companies like OneWeb and Kuiper intend to have large networks in Earth orbit soon..."


2000 is still a lot.
 
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Robert Zwilling

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With all the companies like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft all able to get into the satellite business because the technology has been reduced lego block style, it will hit 12,000 sooner than later.

One good thing about the new "disposable" satellites is that they are being let go in severe storms like Dorian, able to collect incredible information. Dorian is a new breed of storms. It is hugging the coast but keeping the eye just off shore. It looks good because the top winds are only 30 or 40 miles an hour. But it is actually worse because the storm itself doesn't impale itself on land but just keeps literally churning up the coast heading north, flooding, blowing, wrecking, tornadoes. For watching events like that from the inside in real time makes those little "satellites" priceless. You have a storm like that once a year along the coast and none of the properties will be covered by insurance anymore.

Mini satellites scoping out severe storms
 

RJM Corbet

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For watching events like that from the inside in real time makes those little "satellites" priceless. You have a storm like that once a year along the coast and none of the properties will be covered by insurance anymore.
There's no argument that satellites are valuable and necessary. It's really about the gross commercialization of space. Not all commercial products are valuable and necessary? Or perhaps it's a question of degree: commercial value vs the pollution factor?

As I've said before: Musk presents himself as the great saviour of mankind but is really also just another dirty big industrialist, in my own opinion. He parades as the great green hero while busy polluting space, for purely commercial reasons.
 
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RJM Corbet

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But just think of the possibilities! :cautious:

SatAD.jpg
I know. I doubt we have long to wait.

.: I can't post this link enough... Stuff in Space
Wonderful link. Of course in reality the objects are microscopically small in relation to the size of the earth? Musk's Tesla is really a very, very tiny thing compared against the size of the Earth?
 
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-K2-

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Of course in reality the objects are microscopically small in relation to the size of the earth? Musk's Tesla is really a very, very tiny thing compared against the size of the Earth?
Yes, but that's not what is at issue. First off, each is noted as the size of an office desk. Here they are stacked up, with a roadster for a scale comparison.



Here is where I'm a little confused... they show this as a Starlink satellite:



But, I'm guessing that is a pair of these:



In any case, the whole scenario I 'suspect/guess' works out a lot like we saw in the movie 'Gravity.' One gets whacked and turns into 20+/- (making up numbers) pieces traveling at 16955.98 (actual speed) miles/hr.. Those 20 hit 20 more making 400 pieces > 8,000 pieces > 160,000... etc., and naturally now going every which way they're impossible to track and avoid. In short order you have a massive debris field that knocks everything down... AND, it's too unsafe to send anything up to replace them.

K2
 

RJM Corbet

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Right. So I just picked up on this one:

Do we really need so many of the darn things? They're an extension of the internet but they don't seem actually necessary to it? The internet is terrestrial. The internet does not need satellites?

"... Satellite communications companies regularly provide services after natural disasters, since storms and earthquakes can destroy cellular towers and terrestrial infrastructure, creating dark zones during times of crisis. Some are assisting the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, a category 5 storm that struck the Caribbean this past week.

The International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations entity, said Sept. 6 it deployed a mix of 50 satellite phones from Iridium and broadband terminals from Inmarsat in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Spanish connectivity provider e3 Systems said Sept. 4 it is supporting a Yacht Aid Global vessel with satellite connectivity provided for free by Speedcast ..."

EDIT: bringing the hurricane Dorian into the application for more orbital 'rings' comes across as a rather disingenuous cost saving PR effort?
 
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-K2-

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Yes, but that's not what is at issue. ..................In any case, the whole scenario I 'suspect/guess' works out a lot like we saw in the movie 'Gravity.' One gets whacked and turns into 20+/- (making up numbers) pieces traveling at 16955.98 (actual speed) miles/hr.. Those 20 hit 20 more making 400 pieces > 8,000 pieces > 160,000... etc., and naturally now going every which way they're impossible to track and avoid. In short order you have a massive debris field that knocks everything down... AND, it's too unsafe to send anything up to replace them.
As suggested:


K2
 

Robert Zwilling

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The weather has become a true adversary with no capability of overlooking our weaker efforts. A communication system that is not dependent on optimum surface conditions could be useful, especially if the number of severe weather days continues to increase. Right now now just about everything we put into space has a thin skin primarily because we can build it that way. Also keeps the costs down. If space clutter becomes too thick, space objects will evolve and grow armor and be able to shoot down objects that threaten their existence. The smaller ones will probably need a mother ship to manage and protect the herd. The cheaper stuff will become disposable and be replaced as soon as it disappears.
 

StilLearning

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….. The cheaper stuff will become disposable and be replaced as soon as it disappears.
This is already occurring with the increasing rise of very small, low cost, satellites and appropriately sized launchers for them that have fast turn around times. Militaries in particular are taking an interest, as the simplest defense for a satellite constellation that is under attack is to just be able to bring in replacement sats very quickly - for this reason they also look to launch more satellites than needed, so that some can act as redundancies. The RAF is partnering with Richard Branson's orbital space launch company (Virgin Orbit, not to be confused with the more PR friendly but probably less commercially useful Virgin Galactic) for just this reason: Virgin Orbit To Launch Satellites For The British Royal Air Force - With Just A Week's Notice
 

Robert Zwilling

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That could easily happen, they've done it before. While they have plenty of satellites rolling off the production line, rockets aren't so easy to make. I guess they get some thorough testing before they get stamped okay to use before expiration date.
 

RJM Corbet

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That could easily happen, they've done it before. While they have plenty of satellites rolling off the production line, rockets aren't so easy to make. I guess they get some thorough testing before they get stamped okay to use before expiration date.
Damn waste of good rockets, imo :rolleyes:
 
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