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Satellites Collide In Orbit

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the starpocalypse dept.

Space 456

DrEnter writes "According to this story on Yahoo, two communications satellites collided in orbit, resulting in two large clouds of debris. The new threat from these debris clouds hasn't been fully determined yet. From the article, 'The collision involved an Iridium commercial satellite, which was launched in 1997, and a Russian satellite launched in 1993 and believed to be nonfunctioning. Each satellite weighed well over 1,000 pounds.' This is the fifth spacecraft/satellite collision to occur in space, but the other four were all fairly minor by comparison."

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First collision (4, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821651)

I'm just waiting for one of those things to crash through some suburban American family's house.

Re:First collision (5, Funny)

Choad Namath (907723) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821755)

Yeah, the thought of that happening is pretty much the only thing keeping me from putting my house in orbit.

Re:First collision (5, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821763)

That would probably be better than all the debris spreading out and remaining in orbit. That debris, now hundreds of individual pieces, is now able to cause trouble to anything trying to pass through its 'air space', including more satellites, etc.

Some say that the day we have combat/war in space is the last day we will enter space because the debris will block exit/entry.

Re:First collision (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26821845)

Hundreds of individual pieces? RTFM, man! It was just two satellites, so it's only two pieces. Well, like, duh.

Re:First collision (5, Funny)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822159)

Some say that the day we have combat/war in space is the last day we will enter space because the debris will block exit/entry.

That's why you fire two shots from the ion cannon first to clear a lane!

Re:First collision (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821821)

I know they can FEEL endless when you're in them, but suburbs do not actually take up most of the earth's surface. The chances of that happening are fairly low.

Re:First collision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26821959)

Yeah, don't the oceans have it covered?

Re:First collision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822301)

... and Taco Bell breathes a huge sigh of relief.

This was bound to happen. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26821661)

These satellites were Iridium33 (24946) and K-2251 (22675). Now they are pieces of debris from bowling ball sized pieces to vapor.

A nice little animation of the collision is placed here:

http://i39.tinypic.com/2vbk75z.gif [tinypic.com]

This was bound to happen and will happen again. The interesting question is how come they didn't maneuver one of them out of the way. I don't know if 22675 is an active payload that still has power but Iridium33 certainly has the capability of moving. This one was avoidable. Even my non rocket science brain can take the TLEs and figure out that they were passing way too close to each other (I put it at about 500 meters with the latest elements).

Unfortunately, this didn't create 2 'clouds' of debris. This created one huge field of debris that will continue to expand over time. Many of the pieces will be tracked but the very small pieces cannot be.

It would have been way cool to observe the collision!

Re:This was bound to happen. (5, Funny)

OpenSourceOfAllEvil (716426) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821717)

IIRC from Driver's Ed, the vehicle to the right has the right of way.

Re:This was bound to happen. (5, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821805)

Except in Oregon, where the first one to exhibit politeness in a manner consistent with their last four stops gets to wait on the other, regardless of left, right or weaponry. Chevy Suburbans are excluded, as usual, and get to go thru without stopping, signaling or giving a healthy shit.

Token MS reference: Investing in MS is risking having your own money used against you in the marketplace.

Re:This was bound to happen. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822361)

Chevy Suburbans are excluded, as usual, and get to go thru without stopping, signaling or giving a healthy shit.

Or Silverados, which are driven by moron loser dipshits with small cock issues.

Re:This was bound to happen. (4, Funny)

darinfp (907671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821819)

Nope. It's not a road.
The Russian Satellite should have been transmitting "starboard, you arsehole", or the robotic Russian equivalent.

Re:This was bound to happen. (2, Insightful)

windsurfer619 (958212) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822151)

Starboard is to the right!

Re:This was bound to happen. (4, Funny)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821837)

IIRC from Driver's Ed, the vehicle to the right has the right of way.

The Russian satellite had lights and siren going, so the Iridium was supposed to pull over.

Re:This was bound to happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822075)

Yes, but in Soviet Russia --

Re:This was bound to happen. (4, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821823)

"Space Chicken!"

Re:This was bound to happen. (4, Funny)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821875)

The interesting question is how come they didn't maneuver one of them out of the way.

They couldn't talk to each other because someone took out a communication satellite. Obviously.

Re:This was bound to happen. (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821891)

The Russian Sat was not functioning.

Re:This was bound to happen. (1)

Capt.Slant.Eye (1473931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822221)

Only one of them needed to move... If the Russian one wasn't functioning then the other one would of known to get the hell out of the way...

Metre vs Meter. (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822039)

Many of the pieces will be tracked but the very small pieces cannot be.

As for pieces the size of micrometers, the count will likely be in the thousands.

These guys [starrett.com] sell micrometers that can measure things as large as five feet across and ones that can only measure up to an inch across. It seems to me that something is the size of a micrometer is somewhat vague.

Re:This was bound to happen. (5, Funny)

PhaseChange (244013) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822171)

Hey, you got iridium in my K-2251 (22675)!

No, you got K-2251 (22675) in my iridium!

Time for a new tasty treat....

Re:This was bound to happen. (2, Funny)

Capt.Slant.Eye (1473931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822235)

Sounds good... Can I only buy it in outer space? Or will it be crashing and burning at stores near me?

Re:This was bound to happen. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822225)

It would have been way cool to observe the collision!

If a man sees a satellite collision in space and there is no woman there to witness it, is he still wrong?

Satellite smoke (5, Funny)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821683)

Satellite smoke. Don't breathe this.

Re:Satellite smoke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822007)

Um. Anyone want to explain the reference?

Re:Satellite smoke (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822053)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_It_Blend

When Satellites Collide! (5, Interesting)

AJ Mexico (732501) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821689)

Too bad orbital tracking didn't give enough warning for Iridium to get their bird out of the way. I guess no one is cross checking the orbits of all satellites? I know it is done for the shuttle and space station. (The space station *has* maneuvered to keep away from space junk.)

YES, they are! (4, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822065)

I guess no one is cross checking the orbits of all satellites?

Yes, of course, [celestrak.com] they certainly ARE watching all satellites! You see, these birds cost something in the order of $100 million each, don't you think someone is being paid to take care of them?

Well, of course, if it's something between a broken satellite that never reached its intended orbit, and a satellite from a bankrupt company that never had any profit, that's different. It's not as if they were true operating satellites, is it?

In Soviet Outer Space (2, Funny)

microbee (682094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821697)

The satellites collide YOU!

Re:In Soviet Outer Space (3, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821775)

Um, if you RTFA, this WAS in Russian [Soviet] space, you insensitive clod!

Re:In Soviet Outer Space (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822327)

Um, if you RTFA, this WAS in Russian [Soviet] space

In "Soviet" Russia, glasnost and perestroika never happened?

Re:In Soviet Outer Space (4, Funny)

Coder4Life (1396697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822375)

The Russian satellite was launched in 1993. At that point it was no longer "Soviet", you insensitive clod!

Your official guide to the Jigaboo presidency (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26821753)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Obama's first test from Putin? (0, Troll)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821757)

Not to troll or to dwell into politics here, But does anyone here know any numbers for the *actual* chances/probabilities that satellite A will collide with satellite B in orbit around the Earth?
This "collision" seems to be much, MUCH, less probable than an 'innocent' ship's anchor dragging along the sea floor intercepting an undersea data cable (that just happens to plug much of the Middle East into the Internet)...

Does anyone know what these particular satellites were each being tasked to do? (prior to one of them becoming a single-use kinetic energy space-based weapon system projectile)

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821839)

I don't have the probabilities off hand but it is more likely than one might think at first glance. The set altitudes that are useful is not that large, especially for satellites that have the same job (in this case, communication). Furthermore, satellites are circling repeatedly so there are many opportunities where orbits will cross paths. That said, if I were the owners of the Iridium satellite I'd be pissed off right now. They've just lost a very expensive piece of equipment in what should be a preventable mishap. Somebody is going to get fired.

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (2, Interesting)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822321)

Probably not preventable, the Russian one was inactive so they couldn't communicate with it and I don't know if the Iridium one has any maneuvering capabilities. Furthermore there's only so far in advance you can predict collisions before the random fluctuations become to great. Iridium knew the risk when they put the satellite up their and they have redundancy in their system

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (5, Funny)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821871)

Does anyone know what these particular satellites were each being tasked to do? (prior to one of them becoming a single-use kinetic energy space-based weapon system projectile)

Now, I do wear my tin-foil hat a lot, so I'll try to answer your question.

What are the chances that a satellite was launched in 1993 so that it would collide with a satellite launched in 1997, in 2009? As an attempt by Putin to test Obama?

I don't know the exact numbers, but I'd suggest that it might be more profitable to put your entire savings into Powerball tickets.

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822125)

You make a valid point on the years, but it's accuracy depends on if the Russian satellite was actually bricked and non-maneuverable. It might have been capable of slowing maneuvering into another satellite's orbit (and we now will never know)...
At the large distances satellites orbit the earth, the chances that 2 of them will go bump in the night seems really unlikely with their small size and the great number of possible positions.

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (3, Funny)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822303)

Now, I do wear my tin-foil hat a lot, so I'll try to answer your question.

Tinfoil won't work. It needs to be lead.

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (4, Informative)

tobiah (308208) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821873)

from the article: "Iridium Holdings LLC has a system of 65 active satellites which relay calls from portable phones that are about twice the size of a regular mobile phone. It has more than 300,000 subscribers. The U.S. Department of Defense is one of its largest customers." The collision occurred over Siberia.

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (1)

ajaxlex (658555) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821881)

I wondered if the blown bridge in Afghanistan and it's coincidence with the nearby airbase closing (Uzbekistan? Turkmenistan? - due to Russian financial incentives) were likely to be a test from the Kremlin. The two were so conveniently near in time. Then this? Could be hardball while we are preoccupied with transition and the economy. I hope I'm just tinfoiling.

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821921)

And I am where new socks, clearly they are bad luck for Satellite. I mean, what's the probability that two Sats. would collide on the SAME DAY as I wore these socks for the first time!

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822175)

And I am where new socks, clearly they are bad luck for Satellite. I mean, what's the probability that two Sats. would collide on the SAME DAY as I wore these socks for the first time!

Man, that's not even a sentence.

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822247)

Does anyone know what these particular satellites were each being tasked to do?

Did you RTFA? They were part of a cell phone network.

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (2, Funny)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822255)

As soon as I realized that one of the satellites was Russian, a flag went up.

Could it be worth $100 million to take out one of their satellites, then blame it on an "accident"? Maybe the Iridium was basically just what you said, a weapon, in disguise the whole time.

I wonder if tinfoil hats protect oneself from falling space debris as well...

Re:Obama's first test from Putin? (5, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822345)

Not to troll or to dwell into politics here, But does anyone here know any numbers for the *actual* chances/probabilities that satellite A will collide with satellite B in orbit around the Earth?

Yes. The actual probability is 1.

Expanding debris cloud (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821761)

Hopefully the wreckage from this one doesn't end up causing any unpleasant chain reactions. Not only are satellites really expensive, we currently have no especially good way of ridding ourselves of orbital debris. It would suck to fill our good bits of orbit with trash.

Re:Expanding debris cloud (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26821865)

We currently have no especially good way of ridding ourselves of orbital debris.

That's why we need Debris Section [wikipedia.org]

Re:Expanding debris cloud (4, Insightful)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821879)

I'm going to play devil's advocate for a second here:

What if it isn't a bad thing? What if the debris cloud does start some sort of slow chain reaction that knocks out a lot of satellites in orbit and rings earth with debris?

Although it would be expensive to clean up it would definitely put peoples' minds back on space technology if they suddenly couldn't get tv, phone, internet, gps, or other critical services. It could spur development to clean things up, avoid the problem in the future, and get more nations/people/viable technology in space.

In our "convenience at any cost" age, perhaps this sort of inconvenience is the kind of thing to slap some sense into us.

Re:Expanding debris cloud (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821967)

That seems suspiciously close to "the broken window fallacy" in space. It would cost an enormous amount of money, time, resources, and R&D to clear up a significant orbital debris field. All those resources would(with the exception of any spinoff tech) be squandered, spent just to get us back to where we were before.

Also, I suspect that such an outcome would be as likely to spur regression as it would expansion. Space is extremely useful, for satellite mapping, GPS, astronomy, and the like; but it isn't necessary. If the costs of exploiting it rise, as they would, drastically, if satellites were constantly knocked out by debris fields; you'd likely see a scaling back of space exploration. Military surveillance and location stuff would probably make the cut; but you could forget about "nonessentials" like orbital telescopes, cheap satellite photography, and the like.

Re:Expanding debris cloud (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822239)

There's still no plan in place to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch [wikipedia.org] which is at least an order of magnitude easier than cleaning up all usable orbits. It costs half a billion dollars to launch the space shuttle, how many trips do you think it would take to clean up a huge 3 dimensional space with more surface area than the earth itself?

Re:Expanding debris cloud (1)

Capt.Slant.Eye (1473931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822263)

It would cost an enormous amount of money, time, resources, and R&D to clear up a significant orbital debris field.

Yes it may cost a lot of money but look at things this way... Could really help out our economy cause it could eventually lead to a whole new work field... So it could possibly lead to a good outcome...

Re:Expanding debris cloud (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822309)

That seems suspiciously close to "the broken window fallacy" in space.

  • Broken window = break X; buy X to replace broken X and drive economic activity
  • Consumerism = X is "broke"; buy X' to replace "obsolete" X and drive economic activity
  • Externality compensation = X being cheap means people buy cheap, inefficient As, heavy use of X is bad; force manufacturers to build efficient As, and make X more expensive so that other A-like goods are made more efficient, and try to sweet talk consumers and manufactuers into believing it's consumerism
  • Externality compensation = X is prone to destroy other Xs; force manufacturers to build Y with most X functionality, but that doesn't destroy Xs or Ys, and try to sweet talk consumers and manufacturers into believing it's consumerism

Re:Expanding debris cloud (2, Funny)

midicase (902333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822119)

"It could spur development to clean things up"

Are you vying for a part of the stimulus package?

Re:Expanding debris cloud (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822387)

What if it isn't a bad thing? What if the debris cloud does start some sort of slow chain reaction that knocks out a lot of satellites in orbit and rings earth with debris?

Although it would be expensive to clean up it would definitely put peoples' minds back on space technology if they suddenly couldn't get tv, phone, internet, gps, or other critical services. It could spur development to clean things up, avoid the problem in the future, and get more nations/people/viable technology in space.

Or we could spend a fraction of what it would cost to replace those sattelites on an ad campaign for NASA, have the same revitilization of the space program, and have enough money to pay off maybe 1% of our national debt.

Re:Expanding debris cloud (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821937)

Just my luck, I get a new Cell phone contract and all the Satellites are going to collide.

Re:Expanding debris cloud (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821963)

To be realistic, packet switching networks have made a lot of sattelleite technology obsolete. Only navigation and observation satellites are needed in principle.

Re:Expanding debris cloud (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822003)

we currently have no especially good way of ridding ourselves of orbital debris.

Gravity? Granted its slow, but it works. Everything in orbit now will be gone in, ooh, a century or so.

Re:Expanding debris cloud (4, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822163)

we currently have no especially good way of ridding ourselves of orbital debris.

Gravity? Granted its slow, but it works. Everything in orbit now will be gone in, ooh, a century or so.

No. Everything low enough to exprience atmospheric drag will be gone in a century. Anything above 1000km will last thousands of years in orbit. Objects in geosynchronous orbit will last indefinitely because they can slide into valleys in the Earths gravitational field and stay there. Arthur C Clarke liked to point out that one of these places is right above Sri Lanka.

Re:Expanding debris cloud (2, Interesting)

Snowblindeye (1085701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822033)

Hopefully the wreckage from this one doesn't end up causing any unpleasant chain reactions. Not only are satellites really expensive, we currently have no especially good way of ridding ourselves of orbital debris.

There is a scifi story by Ken MacLeod where the orbit around earth is filled with so many satellites that when a war erupts and some of them get destroyed, it starts a chain reaction that ends up shredding all the equipment in orbit and creating a high speed debris belt that prevents space travel for several centuries.

I've always wondered if that scenario is realistic, but from a physics point of view it sounds like it could be.

Re:Expanding debris cloud (1)

Country_hacker (639557) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822353)

What a great use for all the black holes the LHC is going to create! Set them loose in orbit and watch as they clean up all our junk!

google earth (1)

mikey177 (1426171) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821777)

I knew it was going to happen looking at my google earth satellite location application and told NASA but it happened anyway oh well just more junk to add to the landscape.

Better get Geico (3, Funny)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821797)

Did Russia have Geico? 15% off public liability insurance for satellites...

Was this really bound to happen? (3, Insightful)

funky49 (182835) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821863)

Was this really bound to happen? I always assumed that when nations put stuff in space, they always included a way to make it de-orbit and burn up in the atmosphere. Littering space is dumb. Can someone please be less politically correct and put some blame on the non-operational Russian sat? Iridium Satellite should file a claim against the Russians. How come a "conjunction analysis" isn't done for all of the objects they're tracking in space? Does there need to be a "Tracking@Home" app for the ps3? In any case, I have a new development idea for the techno-thriller I'm writing... in the future nobody has satellites because of space terrorism. Or maybe I'll start an orbital mechanics company whose job it is to clean up debris and old crap around Earth.

Funny, I kinda wrote about this in my song "Starblazer [cdbaby.com] "...

earthlings, knee deep in things
in orbit there's garbage rings

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821953)

One of the Sat.s was a non funtioning sat. When the whole thing fails, you can't really deorbit it..cause it failed.

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (1)

funky49 (182835) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822013)

The full extent of the operational abilities of the non-function sat aren't known. Maybe they didn't need it anymore and just powered it off. Plus, it is still the Russian's responsibility to keep track of their space objects and maybe even warn others there might be a collision. Maybe they'll issue an apology, who knows? We don't know what exactly happened except that this is a shame and shoulda/coulda been avoided. Littering space is fearful and could be even more 'impactful' (ha!) in the future.

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (4, Informative)

Cliff Stoll (242915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821997)

When a satellite fails, often it cannot be de-orbited. Several failure modes will cause this - the most common is the malfunction of the controller, communications unit, or onboard power system. When any of these fail, there's no way to command the retro-rocket to fire.

Then, too, you need the satellite to be pointed in the correct direction (meaning that its stationkeeping rockets are working), and for it to have enough hydrazine (or whatever) to be deorbited. Near the end of a spacecraft's life, consumables are limited.

And, of course, it takes a lot of energy to de-orbit many satellites. A geostationary comsat needs one heck of a kick motor to get it down. Usually they are not brought down to burnup in the atmosphere. Instead, they are moved a few dozen (hundred?) kilometers inwards from their geostationary slot. This puts 'em well away from the main circle of geostationary satellites.

It's like consumer goods ... manufacturers work to make them last long enough to complete their mission; few think about how to get rid of 'em once their purpose has expired.

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822279)

Informative post but just one correction, at end of life the birds in geo RAISE their orbit. Decay takes so long that the graveyard orbits are stable over pretty much everyone's planning horizon (centuries+). If collisions occur up there then relative velocities are hopefully small enough to limit the debris field.

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (5, Interesting)

Zak3056 (69287) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822057)

Iridium Satellite should file a claim against the Russians.

Typically, when it comes to right of way, the less maneuverable vehicle has the right of way (for example, a balloon has the right of way over a glider, which has the right of way over an airship, which has the right of way over an airplane. Similar rules apply to seaborne vessels.) Taking at face value the summary's statement that the Russian satellite was non-functional, it was clearly the duty of the operators of the Iridium satellite to take action. If you want to talk claims/liability, I'd say that the Iridium folks are on the hook for huge damages--through negligence they've created a massive hazard to navigation that will be a problem for... what, centuries?

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (1, Troll)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822081)

Iridium Satellite should file a claim against the Russians.

Typically, when it comes to right of way, the less maneuverable vehicle has the right of way (for example, a balloon has the right of way over a glider, which has the right of way over an airship, which has the right of way over an airplane. Similar rules apply to seaborne vessels.) Taking at face value the summary's statement that the Russian satellite was non-functional, it was clearly the duty of the operators of the Iridium satellite to take action. If you want to talk claims/liability, I'd say that the Iridium folks are on the hook for huge damages--through negligence they've created a massive hazard to navigation that will be a problem for... what, centuries?

Okay so if a Russian satellite falls from the sky on to my car, I am at fault because I could have moved out of the way?

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (3, Interesting)

kelnos (564113) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822329)

If you were told in advance that the satellite was going to fall into the exact location where your car was sitting, and that no one could change the satellite's trajectory because it was dead, and you nevertheless left your car there, then, yes, I'd say you're at fault.

Try fleshing out the analogy so it actually makes sense next time.

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (1)

funky49 (182835) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822355)

So did the people with the dead sat tell the people with the living sat?

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (2, Insightful)

phulegart (997083) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822371)

If it was your job to track satellites, because you were part of the department that launched the satellite that fell on your car.. then YES, it would be your fault that you did not move your car out of the way.

Now, since the people who owned the Iridium Satellite were ALSO in charge of maintaining it... which includes knowing it's position in the sky... they were responsible for making sure that it did not collide with anything. In a perfect world (or above it) there would have been people closely monitoring both trajectories, with the ability to adjust each satellite.

So either no one was watching at Iridium, which means someone needs to be sacked for not properly monitoring the unit... or those who were watching assumed that the Russian satellite was going to be the one that moved, and someone needs to be sacked for THAT decision.

But if you want an analogy that involves cars...
Two cars head for the same parking spot. If one of those cars has no driver, and is just rolling in that direction (the dead Russian satellite that was probably identified long before the collision) and you did NOTHING after identifying that there was no one behind the wheel, then it would be your fault when that car collided with you.

Still want a car analogy? Ok. You are in a car, heading to cross railroad tracks. You can see quite a bit of the road ahead, and you can see a train coming. You can even tell that you are going to cross the tracks just in time to get hit by that train. Now... why would you assume that the other guy is going to move? In this case, it can't. It won't even be able to slow down in time. You are the one with maneuverability. Thus, if you do collide with that train, it will be your fault.

Yeah, maybe they did not KNOW that the Russian Satellite was dead. So you assume the conversation went like this?
"Hey, our satellite is gonna hit a Russian bird."
"Hmmm... they had better alter that orbit"
"Why don't we alter our orbit?"
"What? That's crazy talk. No reason OUR orbit should be altered. Let them move theirs." ... time passes...
"They didn't change their orbit."
"Well, we aren't altering ours."

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822133)

Iridium Satellite should file a claim against the Russians.

Most likely the Russians would not object to American lawyers being sent to Siberia to file whatever they would like. Most Americans would probably even donate money for leasing jets to get them there, especially if they could be assured of no empty seats.

Re:Was this really bound to happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822325)

Most likely the Russians would not object to American lawyers being sent to Siberia to file whatever they would like.

Remember.

Our president is a lawyer.

Haven't you ever seen Space Cowboys? (2, Funny)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821867)

a Russian satellite launched in 1993 and believed to be nonfunctioning.

It's a cover-up, Soviet nukes are falling from space, run for your lives!

Don't worry... (3, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821947)

James Bond has safely crashed that Iridium satellite into the Russian cold war doomsday device satellite somewhere over Siberia.

After that, he has as usual returned to having sex with female scientists that look like supermodels.
All is well with the world once more.

A good question.... (3, Interesting)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821877)

TFA says that they knew this would happen 'sooner or later' but doesn't mention anything specific.

The question is, did anyone have any specific knowledge of the likelihood of this specific collision prior to the event?

I'm assuming just now there wasn't orbital information of sufficient precision to predict this.

Re:A good question.... (4, Funny)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821941)

The question is, did anyone have any specific knowledge of the likelihood of this specific collision prior to the event?

Maybe they're like slashdot dupes. Everyone knows they're coming, they just can't be certain when.

High Perigees LEOs Should be Reserved (3, Interesting)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 5 years ago | (#26821929)

This is a good example of why circular, indeed any high-perigee orbit should be reserved for applications like tether propulsion [wikipedia.org] such as HASTOL Rotovators [wikipedia.org] .

Low perigee orbits, orbits that dip into upper atmosphere, naturally decay to reentry. If collisions occur, the pieces will naturally decay to reentry.

Rotovators are highly valuable and actually need to operate in LEO to throw things out of LEO, both up and down -- and Rotovators are quite vulnerable to debris.

500 mile perigee is way to high. It is a nighmare orbit for debris proliferation.

How about launching Chalf? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822055)

Thinking about ways to do a cleanup. My thought is to launch something which will physically soak up small particles then deorbit due to radiation pressure. Another way would be to deliberately saturate the cluttered orbits with junk in a retrograde orbit so that momentum cancels out and the results of collisions fall into the atmosphere.

Re:High Perigees LEOs Should be Reserved (3, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822333)

Rotovators are highly valuable and actually need to operate in LEO to throw things out of LEO, both up and down -- and Rotovators are quite vulnerable to debris.

Blah, blah, blah. Rotovators [wikipedia.org] are "valuable" the same way unicorns and genies are "valuable", which is to say they are valuable in theory, but since we don't have any nor do we have any prospect of acquiring any anytime soon, it would be completely ridiculous to make expensive financial concessions based on this imaginary "value".

5th collision?? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26821985)

I know of 3 previous collisions.

1991-12-23 COSMOS vs. COSMOS DEB (discovered in 2005)
1996-07-24 CERISE vs. Ariane R/B
2005-01-17 Thor Burner vs. CZ-4 DEB

What's the 4th previous??

Re:5th collision?? (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822093)

How about the progress freighter which hit Mir because it had the incorrect mass information loaded?

Planetes (5, Interesting)

Bonker (243350) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822005)

Planetes is a japenese cartoon about this very subject [wikipedia.org] , and other unpleasant realities of space travel including space-radiation induced cancer, the birth problems of people living on the moon, and the long delay involved in inter-planetary travel.

The main character, 'Hachimaki', is basically a space garbage collector.

Re:Planetes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822137)

Weeaboo!

Re:Planetes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26822343)

Did somebody just say "weeaboo"?

That settles it..... (4, Funny)

john_anderson_ii (786633) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822097)

It's time for MegaMaid. Get NASA started on that Spaceball-1 project STAT.

Re:That settles it..... (5, Funny)

saxoholic (992773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822223)

It's time for MegaMaid. Get NASA started on that Spaceball-1 project STAT.

This thread just went from suck to blow.

Cause? Tractor beam from Alien Craft (2, Funny)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822181)

The US Air Force has posted the video evidence on YouTube. The Soviets are going to the World Court to seek damages for infringement of copyright of said video.

What would be the odds (5, Funny)

capebretonsux (758684) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822267)

if it collided with a $100,000 toolbag....

Hey what happened to Reagan's SDI? (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822319)

Our satellites are supposed to have lasers on them to knock down any missile or satellite that tries to knock ours out?

Maybe Putin is trying to play a game of "Space Chess" with Obama? Russian satellite takes out USA satellite, check, Comrade!

Maybe it was a test to see if the SDI "Star Wars" defense system really existed or not? "I'll send my satellite towards theirs and see what happens."

Looks like Ronald Reagan played too many Atari "Missile Command" games and all of those trillions spent for SDI program was for nothing. If SDI did exist, it would have detected a Russian satellite coming too near a USA satellite and shot it down.

Zap it! (2, Interesting)

madcat2c (1292296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822347)

Just use that big 747 we have with the giant laser mounted in it to start zapping the debris. I'm sure they need the target practice. Start by going after the 50 most annoying bits of junk.

The Dyson guy! (1)

madcat2c (1292296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822369)

Get that Dyson guy working a giant Space Vacuum cleaner!

Star wars? (1)

psychcf (1248680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26822373)

Good thing we never put lasers into space... who knows what would have happened then.
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