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Call In the Military To Blast Rogue Satellite?

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the star-wars-is-awesome dept.

Communications 243

coondoggie submitted a follow-up to the tale of the wandering satellite that might collide with other stuff in orbit. He asks "Will the military need to be called in to blow up the rogue Intelsat satellite meandering through Earth's orbit? Or maybe a NASA Space Shuttle could swing by and grab it? You may recall that in 2008, rather than risk that a large piece of a failing spy satellite would fall on populated areas, the government blasted it out of the sky. The physics of such a shot were complicated and the Navy had a less than 10-second window to hit the satellite as it passed over its ships in the Pacific Ocean. But it worked. Now word comes that a five-year-old Intelsat TV satellite is meandering in orbit and attempts to control it have proven futile. At issue now is that the satellite could smash into other satellites or ramble into other satellite orbits and abscond with their signals."

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U.S. Air Force to the rescue! (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194072)

Well, I guess now at least we know what the launch of that secretive X-37B [cnet.com] Air Force shuttle was for. So we should be safe, assuming that a PS3 update [slashdot.org] doesn't screw up its aiming system.

Re:U.S. Air Force to the rescue! (4, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194284)

The satellite is Luxembourg-owned, which has an army of 600 soldiers, 2 cannons and no plane, so I don't see that happening.

Re:U.S. Air Force to the rescue! (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194382)

They've also got a fleet of E-3 AWACS. Technically they belong to the NATO alliance, but they had to be registered with some country under ICAO regulations, so Luxembourg was chosen.

Re:U.S. Air Force to the rescue! (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194326)

My first thought when I heard about this satellite was if the X-37 had the propellant to reach geosynchronous orbit (which I highly doubt). Seems to be a job for which a general-purpose reusable craft is designed for: go out of the way, do something rarely attempted (collect a misbehaving sat), and down-mass back to Earth in the process.

It would also be a great proof of concept for future clandestine operations: if you have enough X-37s in the air all the time, it's no longer out of the ordinary to see a launch, so you can't point to that as the reason your satellite went dark. Especially if you can bring it back to Earth with full functionality, you get to look at all those tasty state-secrets residing on board.

Re:U.S. Air Force to the rescue! (1)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194652)

Which works up until the point the self-destruct charge in the captured satellite goes off while the X-37 has it in the hold. DoH !

Re:U.S. Air Force to the rescue! (5, Informative)

NonSenseAgency (1759800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194514)

The X-37B, the Space Shuttle, all current anti-satellite missiles, in short all systems that the military currently acknowledges having cannot reach far enough to "destroy" the satellite. Such an outcome is not even desirable as it would turn the satellite into a field of orbiting buckshot that would "mostly" remain in the same orbit. Which is to say some would not and would inevitably impact nearby satellites and possibly create more problems. Likewise, hitting it with a ground based laser, although probably doable, would not be a good idea. As it stands now, the satellite will not come back to Earth, there is no danger of reentry. It will most likely end up at the Lagrange point as has already been stated.

Re:U.S. Air Force to the rescue! (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194700)

I'm curious as to which 'Lagrange point' it's supposed to end up at, and how exactly it will get there without and additional energy input. Even the Earth-Moon L1 point is 10 times further out than GEO, and it's not even a stable point.

Re:U.S. Air Force to the rescue! (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194776)

The X-37B, the Space Shuttle, ... cannot reach far enough to "destroy" the satellite. Such an outcome is not even desirable as it would turn the satellite into a field of orbiting buckshot that would "mostly" remain in the same orbit.

If we wanted to destroy it, we wouldn't use the space shuttle or X-37. That's what missiles are (or would be) for. The Shuttle/X-37 would be used to retreive the satellite and return it to earth, or to 'nudge' it to a graveyard orbit.

This is, of course, assuming we were talking about a satellite in LEO that could be reached by these systems.

They'll Probably Decline (2, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194082)

Call In the Military To Blast Rogue Satellite?

Look at it this way, they've already demonstrated to the rest of the world that their toys can knock your toys out of the sky. And that is the unquestioned belief right now which is why China had to run a similar test [bbc.co.uk] ... er "emergency to save other satellites." Why jeopardize your status as anti-satellite super power to actually do something positive?

Re:They'll Probably Decline (2, Interesting)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194238)

It is really important to not detonate a missile against a satellite. Essentially, it results in a bunch of high-velocity projectiles, that destroy other satellites in the area. People will be quite upset if you detonate a satellite in geosynchronous orbit and destroy a bunch of other satellites in the process.

A more realistic option would be to send a robot into orbit, and have it carefully push the errant satellite into a higher or lower orbit. The key technical issue is that satellites are deliberately made to be delicate to save weight. It is tough to get hold of and push into different orbit without the satellite breaking apart.

Re:They'll Probably Decline (1)

coniferous (1058330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194472)

Couldn't you use another satellite to push it out of orbit? It would be destroyed in the process, but that's got to be safer and less expensive than a missile.... right?

Re:They'll Probably Decline (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194584)

but that's got to be safer and less expensive than a missile.... right?

How do you think the satellite would get up there? It would ride on the top of a rocket. The only difference between a rocket and a missile is the intended usage thereof.

Re:They'll Probably Decline (1)

coniferous (1058330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194680)

I was thinking more along the lines of a depreciated already existing one.

Frosty Urine (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194104)

Frosty Urine. I am wasting your modpoint.

No, and no (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194120)

As was clearly stated the last time we had this exact discussion:

- far too high for the space shuttle
- most assuredly too high for most anti-sat missiles

Re:No, and no (2, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194186)

and (3)---No Taco Bell sponsorship...yet.

#3: would cause huge amount of debris (2, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194378)

The amount of debris generated would further 'pollute' the orbit around earth....

Re:#3: would cause huge amount of debris (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194418)

If this stops satellite TV stations from polluting the skies with gameshows and comedies, I'm all in favour of blowing the satellite up in the way that causes the worst debris field possible.

Re:No, and no and NO and N! O! (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194436)

consider also it takes months to put up a shuttle launch, and there are only two or three left in the history of the system.

and consider that any method of blasting the errant satellite makes zillions of smaller, faster, deadlier satellites to puncture and kill the rest of that orbital window.

what we desperately need is a space janitor to creep along orbits and trap all the errant bolts, paint chips, and snattered rocket nacelles from all the decrepit crap floating about, endangering the space systems we have.

nobody's working on it.

we will lose a LOT of technology because of it.

Re:No, and no and NO and N! O! (2, Informative)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194510)

Buck-Henry has the plans already drawn up... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark_(TV_series) [wikipedia.org] "...Quark is an American science fiction situation comedy starring Richard Benjamin ... May 7, 1977 (canceled in April 1978). Quark was created by Buck Henry, ...The show was set on the United Galaxies Sanitation Patrol Cruiser, an interstellar garbage scow operating out of United Galaxies Space Station Perma One in the year 2222. Adam Quark, the main character, works to clean up trash in space by collecting "space baggies"..."

Re:No, and no (-1, Flamebait)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194582)

Think outside of the box people. Mount missiles on the space shuttle.

Although it seems a lot of effort just to keep the television from interrupted for a few hours. I suppose that some people think that without the continous indoctrination of Hannity/Beck/Limbaugh some might revert to the natural rational thinking.

In any case, it is unlikely that a solution could be developed in the couple day to week timeframe available.

Re:No, and no (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194690)

Is /. trading places with The Onion? WTF is this crap doing on the front page. Doesn't anyone know the difference between hundreds of miles and tens of thousands of miles? That's like the difference between a road trip to Tijuana and a road trip to Tierra del Fuego.

Space shuttle (2, Informative)

catbutt (469582) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194122)

Doesn't come anywhere close to geosynchronous orbit (22,000 miles high)

When China does it... (-1, Flamebait)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194128)

When China does it, the world protests. [bbc.co.uk] all the space junk created. However, when the US does it, it's to save other satellites.

Re:When China does it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194204)

When China does it, the world protests. [bbc.co.uk] all the space junk created. However, when the US does it, it's to save other satellites.

This article comes from the blog of Michael Cooney @ Layer 8. He's not the mouthpiece of the US government.

Re:When China does it... (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194218)

When China does it, the world protests. all the space junk created. However, when the US does it, it's to save other satellites

Good god, man, cable TV signals are at steak here!

Re:When China does it... (2, Funny)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194408)

Good god, man, cable TV signals are at steak here!

Let's not limit ourselves just to worrying about Food Network. Don't be a chicken, there's a whole world of television programming.

Stop beefing (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194636)

Sounds like the pot roast calling the kettle stew past the sell-by date.

Re:When China does it... (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194260)

When China does it, the world protests. [bbc.co.uk] all the space junk created. However, when the US does it, it's to save other satellites.

The US did it before China and people were very critical [csmonitor.com] :

The official explanation – that the US wanted to prevent the toxic contents of the spacecraft's fuel tank from hitting the ground – seems a bit thin, according to James Lewis, director of the technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Thus critics from around the world have speculated about ulterior motives, ranging from a desire to test US ballistic missile defenses to poking China in the eye.

It's a sort of anti-satellite arms race and status thing between two super power. Or in playground terms, the two assholes are having a dick measuring contest [theonion.com] .

Re:When China does it... (5, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194328)

Well, the two shots were Apples and Oranges.

USA-193 was in a decaying orbit at 130 miles and most of the debris de orbited within a couple weeks. It was hit by a small SM-3 surface to air missile, 21 feet long, 3,000 pounds

FY-1C was in a stable polar orbit at 537 miles and it's destruction increased the amount of space debris by 12%. The missile that hit it was a DF-21, 35 feet long, 30,000 pounds

Re:When China does it... (3, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194434)

Thanks. I came here to ask whether this didn’t just increase the space debris and your comment pretty well answered my question.

Re:When China does it... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194630)

I didn't cite, got too busy at work.

My information came from Wiki out of ease, but all the talk about USA-193 was in the public at the time of the shot and there was a good documentary about it on SCIENCE here in the US.

Re:When China does it... (2, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194396)

The US tests during the Cold War? Or the more recent US test that used no explosives and did not create any space junk*?

* Rather, the satellite was so low that the "junk" immediately de-orbited and burned up.

US Got Lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194596)

As I understand it, the US just got lucky - they had no idea whether the shot would or would not create a huge junk cloud. And it didn't.

Abscond with their signals? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194132)

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

1 big bit vs many many little bits (3, Informative)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194136)

Stuff does not deorbit like a syfy movie.

I would think the tightly contained 1 big bit of a satellite is much safer than the thousands of little tiny parts in all sorts of orbits you are going to get if you try and destroy the one big bit.

Re:1 big bit vs many many little bits (2, Informative)

yincrash (854885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194224)

many little bits have much more surface area which increases friction to cause it to fall to Earth much quicker and have a much much higher chance of burning up completely on the way down.

Re:1 big bit vs many many little bits (3, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194348)

many little bits have much more surface area which increases friction to cause it to fall to Earth much quicker and have a much much higher chance of burning up completely on the way down.

Problem is, there's a period of time when those little bits are made from that one big bit, and when those little bits deorbit. During that time, those little bits can choose to impact other satellites in the same or lower orbits, which causes the impacted satellites to have more little bits ripped off and sent flying around.

That's one of the big problems we have right now - we could reach a point where space junk contributes to making more space junk by destroying working satellites which cause a nice chain reaction as that new space junk has increased the chances a satellite will get hit.

The other thing is Galaxy 15 is at or near GEO. Which means those pieces will take a long time to deorbit, and with random orbits there's a good change they'll take out other satellites in GEO as well. Best to just let it naturally find a new equilibrium position at one of the Lagrange points. At least if it breaks up there those pieces will tend to stay there.

Re:1 big bit vs many many little bits (2, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194512)

That's pretty much what is done with failed GEO satellites - the problem with this one is that navigation and control failed but the payload is still active and they can't turn it off.

Re:1 big bit vs many many little bits (3, Informative)

colonelquesadilla (1693356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194350)

Yeah but it's in geostationary orbit, that's way up there, it's not like in LEO where you still get a lot of atmospheric drag.

Re:1 big bit vs many many little bits (1)

sigma_epsilon (1701846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194432)

friction to cause it to fall to Earth much quicker

In space.

Re:1 big bit vs many many little bits (3, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194492)

Friction? In a Clarke orbit?

The only interactions the "many little bits" are likely to participate in would have unpredictable orbital effects (like boosting fragments into more elliptical but semi-stable orbits, threatening more orbital space), and also more likely to have cause high-velocity collision damage to other spacecraft at the same orbital altitude and node.

Re:1 big bit vs many many little bits (1)

jvillain (546827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194346)

Instead of firing a bullet at the neighbouring satellites they would be firing a shot gun at it instead. To make matters worse they currently have some thing they can track and has a predictable orbit. What the author wants to trade that in for is lots of orbits that they may or may not be able to track and may no longer be able to safely move out of the way from. If the military should try to fire on this satellite the reason would be all about testing a weapon rather than trying to make space safer.

Mmm Debris. (1)

Adustust (1650351) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194142)

How much will it cost us now to blow up the satellite and avoid collisions? How much will it cost us later when we have to clean up all of this damn space debris and avoid collisions? How is it that we managed to create such a large market for putting things into space, and yet have such a lack of the means to take things back down?

Re:Mmm Debris. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194292)

How much will it cost us later when we have to clean up all of this damn space debris and avoid collisions

I think you are vastly underestimating the vastness of space.

My thesaurus however, is not very vast.

Re:Mmm Debris. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194594)

Never mind the thesaurus, look up "orbit" in the dictionary - this stuff isn't going out into deep space, it's hanging around.

Re:Mmm Debris. (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194676)

How much will it cost us later when we have to clean up all of this damn space debris and avoid collisions

I think you are vastly underestimating the vastness of space.

I think you are vastly overestimating [wikipedia.org] the vastness of geosynchronous/geostationary orbit. We have a belt that's "only" 264,924 km [wolframalpha.com] in circumference, miniscule compared the the space we have in the variety of low-earth orbits. Most importantly, this is the only region of space that can be used for geostationary satellites. We can't go somewhere else if we clutter it up.

Re:Mmm Debris. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194706)

Because putting things in space is profitable, while taking them back down is just a cost center, and generally not a legally obligatory one, at that?

should be impossible to hit (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194144)

It's no bigger than a womp rat.

Re:should be impossible to hit (2, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194226)

But maybe a ghost can give advice to fire more accurately using only your brain.

Higher orbit (1)

vbraga (228124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194148)

Isn't the "rogue" satellite in GEO? Although probabily there's ready ways to intercept something in a lower orbit would it be possible to do it in GEO?

Satellite Hunting License . . . (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194160)

With "privatize the space industry" all in vogue these days, the government should issue Satellite Hunting Licenses to private companies, with $$$ prizes for taking it out.

Let the private sector nail that varmint!

Re:Satellite Hunting License . . . (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194618)

Are you entirely sure that encouraging a bunch of amateurs to fire all kinds of crap into space is definitely the way to solve this..?

Shuttle? (5, Insightful)

TamCaP (900777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194172)

The part about the shuttle is obviously a joke, right? It can barely make it to the LEO, it is not able to reach a very highly located geosynchronous orbit. + why would you want to risk the lives of the crew and send a completely crazy unscheduled mission? And for some cheapo (in space terms) comms satellite? If they will send anything, it will be an unmanned mission, but even this is unlikely.

Re:Shuttle? (2, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194344)

Shuttle makes it to LEO just fine, there's no "barely" about it.

Re:Shuttle? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194654)

It might be easier to launch something from the shuttle to push the satellite out into deep space than it would be to launch something from the ground. Having said that, I think you're right, they won't waste money on this unless a) there's some new weapons tech they want to trial, or b) we reach crisis point with debris smashing up functioning satellites on a regular basis.

They can't (5, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194188)

The US doesn't appear to have a system capable of destroying something at that orbit.

Now the first paragraph in the article is just full of ignorance.

"Will the military need to be called in to blow up the rogue Intelsat satellite meandering through Earth's orbit? Or maybe a NASA Space Shuttle could swing by and grab it?"

Again, the military hasn't demonstrated the ability to hit things in that orbit. The Shuttle can't go that high.

The F-15 launched ASM-135 ASAT - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASM-135_ASAT [wikipedia.org] - could go up to 350 miles.
USA-193 was destroyed at 130 miles

Galaxy 15 is at 22,230 miles

Re:They can't (4, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194448)

Even if the US would have such a capability they would not tip their hand to show it off.
Why show your enemies what you can really do?

Re:They can't (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194604)

Exactly, this isn't a national security emergency, the DoD won't show true capabilities for this.

Re:They can't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194666)

Satellite People: "Mr Military Man, can you kill that sattelite for us?"

Mr. Military Man: "No, we have nothing capable of reaching that far, but your self-destruct button may just suddenly start working"

Re:They can't (1)

shadowbearer (554144) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194794)

  We don't have a specifically-tasked anti-satellite system that can reach that orbit, no.

  However, if we can deploy satellites up there, we can deploy anti-satellite systems up there. I don't imagine the rest of the world would be real happy if we did.

SB

Geosync orbit too high (2, Informative)

franknagy (56133) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194194)

The wayward satellite is in (or near) geosychronous orbit (23+K miles up). The shuttle cannot
reach that orbit, being limited to a couple of hundred miles altitude. Similarly, the anti-satellite
weapons are only designed for low orbit satellites (spy satellites and other military targets).

Now, if we had ever gone ahead and build the interorbit taxi/transport as an adjunct to
the space station (either robotic or manned), we would have a solution to the problem.
Right now we are stuck.

Turn in your nerd card as you leave (1)

albeit unknown (136964) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194200)

You should know that the Space Shuttle can't make it anywhere near geosynchronous orbit.

It's in geostationary orbit (1)

Invisible Now (525401) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194232)

All the attempts at humorous responses aside, The Shuttle pickups, Chinese blowups, X37B, and all previously announced intercepts were in low earth orbit - 100s of miles up. This satellite is 23,500 miles up...

short answer? No. (2, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194246)

Long answer? No. And this is why.

This satellite is in geosynchronous orbit. A shuttle mission is not an option, the orbit is to high. Retasking an ICBM or other missile to intercept is not an option, the orbit is to high.

Lasers could be an option, if one existed with the right power and accuracy. This thing is thousands of miles farther than any destructive laser has ever been targeted. Then you have to deal with not just a meandering satellite but possibly a cloud of debris capable of knocking out other satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

Please check your sarcasm detectors before reading (1)

danwesnor (896499) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194248)

Blowing up a satellite in orbit seems like a great way to solve the orbital debris problem to me.

Lasers? (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194250)

What if everyone on earth pointed their laser pointers at it at the same time? It would have at least as good a chance as sending the space shuttle.

Re:Lasers? (1)

colonelquesadilla (1693356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194394)

Hmm... trained sharks you say?

Best to move it (3, Insightful)

MpVpRb (1423381) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194274)

Blowing it up would create a huge cloud of debris...very bad.

It's in geostationary orbit (~22000 miles), so it's way beyond the shuttle altitude.

Maybe somebody could develop a small space "tug" that could be launched to intercept it, and gently push it out of the way?

Probably a lot harder to actually do than to speculate about, and it would probably take years, and cost millions.

So...no easy answers.

Re:Best to move it (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194494)

If they would build a space tug then they could also divert killer asteroids away from earth.

IOW: nothing will be done unless cable/sat TV is knocked out in the USA. TV keep the people happy, as in "bread and circuses".

Too high up and then what to do with the pieces? (0, Redundant)

KDN (3283) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194302)

The satellite in question is at geosync altitudes, something like 23,000 miles. I think the space shuttle has a maximum orbit at something like 300 miles. And even if you blew it to bits, what do you do about all the pieces that will be floating around for the next hundred years or so? Best option for now is to let it drift out of control until the solar cells no longer can let the machine charge and then it goes dead. Maybe in 10 years when China is the new world superpower they can clean it up.

Drifts to Lagrange point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194304)

When I first heard about this a few days back, the article said that a satellite in geosynchronus orbit will eventually drift into the one of the earth-sun lagrange points and sit there ad infinitum

Works in the movies... (2, Funny)

Firemouth (1360899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194306)

... nuke it!

Re:Works in the movies... (1)

crashumbc (1221174) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194566)

It's the only way to be sure...

Does anyone have a map of where all the sats are? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194318)

If they are concerned about this satellite hitting other satellites, it would seem that traffic up there is getting pretty high. We know that of course there are varying reasons for launching satellites and some launches are done with little information shared on their purpose or location.

Nonetheless, is there an agency anywhere that has a good estimate of how many satellites are up there, where they are, and in which direction they are travelling? Is it something that NASA and others would start to pay more attention to when/if they start going for moon/mars/other-far-away-places missions?

Re:Does anyone have a map of where all the sats ar (1)

theVP (835556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194380)

http://www.mylocalinstaller.com/diagra2.jpg [mylocalinstaller.com]

It's the closest thing I can find. But....that's a lot.

Re:Does anyone have a map of where all the sats ar (1)

vbraga (228124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194442)

I believe NORAD [wikipedia.org] keeps track of most satellites and junk in orbit.

Summary needs remedial science. (1)

Theodore (13524) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194356)

Blowing it up in the area of geo-stationary orbit would be the most stupid thing to do.
"Have a nice new dark-age!"

We need a crash course:
make a probe with arms and an engine to get sent up, grab onto it, and take it down into the drink.

Yeah, harvesting this stuff would be better, but that ain't gonna happen.
Sure, you could have it bring dead sats to a landing vehicle to do reclamation,
but old owners who had written them off as dead would bitch for their bit,
and add in astro-preservationists... "it's a bit of space history, it HAS to stay up there".
(OK, for some early sats, fine; most of what's gone up in the last 30-40 years, probably not).

Well you could always -- (0, Redundant)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194366)

-- "...nuke the entire [satellite] from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

Apologies to Ripley.

A space bulldozer (1, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194372)

We need a maneuverable satellite dedicated to cleaning up our garbage. It could find a wayward satellite or piece of space debris and push it down into the atmosphere to burn up at a safe time and place. Call it a space bulldozer.

Any nation that has put up more than a token number of satellites should take the responsible action and put up a bulldozer satellite. They can then go around and work on slowly cleaning up their messes. Space is littered with an incredible amount of junk, and it would benefit everyone to clear it up.

We make messes on Earth and they tend to get cleaned up (at least in most first world countries). Why should outer space be any different? Just like on Earth, the mess doesn't go away on it's own and inevitably being ignored just makes the problems get worse and worse.

Certainly in the long run this would be cheaper than dedicated rocket launches to get just one thing at a time and would create less debris than simply blowing it up.

Re:A space bulldozer (1)

Mouldy (1322581) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194524)

Then we'd need another bulldozer satellite for when the 1st bulldozer fails and another one for when that one fails.

Reminds me somewhat of this [failblog.org] .

Re:A space bulldozer (2, Insightful)

d1r3lnd (1743112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194628)

Actually, space debris will clean itself up over time... the question is just how long it will take.

Launching a "space bulldozer" would then require periodic refueling, add in the risk of the space dozer itself becoming an orbital hazard (do you think orchestrating collisions between the space dozer and its targets would be easy and reliable?)... it's not exactly a feasible solution at the moment.

What you're suggesting is a bit like suggesting that we keep a refueling tanker in the air at all times, just in case any commercial jets run out of fuel.

Re:A space bulldozer (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194640)

Yes... and when we make this space bulldozer and international tensions rise, what's to stop me from using this completely harmless tool to destroy the satellite network of nation X? There will be just as much offense taken at us doing precisely this as when we toasted a satellite a while back in a much lower orbit. While it would be great to clean up the mess up there, just leaving it where it is and maybe microwaving its broadcast unit would allow for everyone to know where the satellite was and avoid the international flack of having something publicly known capable of randomly toasting satellites. I assume zapping the thing is a challenge (the laser idea above is basically the same) as satellites are surely hardened against radiation damage from solar flares, etc.

What about (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194376)

Okay I'm not an expert on how they get satellites up to geosynchronous orbit, but it seems to me the most expedient way would be to re-purpose what ever delivery system they use to get the things up there in the first place.

Re:What about (2, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194626)

That's the closest thing I've heard to a sensible approach (other than "leave the damn thing alone, it's not doing any real harm.")

Barring extensive magical thinking, the only thing which can get up to geosync orbit is another geosync vehicle, using an appropriate heavy-lift booster programmed and sequenced to insert SOMETHING into a not-quite-rendezvous geosync orbit. Then the SOMETHING has to maneuver into rendezvous and do its thing. (Fix the broken satellite, grappel and do a de-orbit burn, whatever.)

So, the problem isn't repurposing the delivery system. The problem is what to deliver. The rendezvous-and-deorbit spacecraft doesn't exist. There's nothing helpful to deliver.

Random speculation? (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194410)

When did uninformed bloggers become news for nerds? Was there a memo that I missed?

use another satelite ? (2, Interesting)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194446)

ok, other already pointed that the shuttle and military interceptors can't reach geosychronous orbit, but about satelites that are already there ?

isn't there any old, almost decomissioned satelite near that orbit that is:

a) still under control from ground station
b) with fuel enough to manouver to galaxy 15's orbit ?

it doesn, t need to be a big impact, just a slow relative speed collision to nudge G15 to either deorbit it or send it to a lagrange point.

ASM-135 ASAT (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194464)

May I suggest the ASM-135 ASAT [wikipedia.org] . We did spend $5.3 billion dollars (1986 dollars no less) on it so might as well use them all up now.

May I suggest you check service ceiling. (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194672)

The service ceiling of the ASM-135 ASAT is 135 miles.

The orbit of geosynchronous satellites is about 26,000 miles.

Re:ASM-135 ASAT (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194678)

Brilliant! Except to my knowledge, there aren't any in the inventory.

And... you'll have to bring the satellite a bit closer to Earth first.

Operational range 403 miles (648 km)
Flight ceiling 350 miles (563 km)

But tell you what. Go ahead and lower the orbit of the defective satellite by 98 2/3% and the US Air Force will handle the rest.

Re:ASM-135 ASAT (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194694)

May I suggest you read the article you link to?

Flight ceiling 350 miles (563 km)

Very, verrrrrrry bad idea (3, Informative)

Goldenhawk (242867) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194466)

In case you don't remember, stuff traveling at orbital velocities is positively lethal to spacecraft. The extreme energies involved in these kinds of impacts is enough to send very high velocity fragments in all directions. Sure, some of it will de-orbit, but most will end up in fairly stable orbits that will EVENTUALLY intersect all the other satellites up there. So blowing up one rogue satellite makes one very annoying but eminently predictable problem into a thousand lethal and unpredictable problems.

Last February, a Russian satellite hit a commercial Iridium satellite, and the resulting debris cloud (estimated near 600 pieces in various orbits) has been a HUGE headache for everyone in similar orbital altitudes.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123438921888374497.html [wsj.com]
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29147679/ [msn.com]

In 2008, the US got criticized around the world for blowing up a falling satellite because of the health threats of hydrazine if it landed in a populated area. Aside from complaints about military showboating, there were many scientists who complained about the resulting orbital debris; however, in reality it was a very low-altitude explosion and the debris cloud did de-orbit very quickly (unlike a geosynchronous orbit explosion, which would leave practically permanent debris due to the orbit well above any appreciable atmospheric drag).
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_6712/is_35_237/ai_n29417848/ [findarticles.com]

Read here for some details on the general problems with orbital debris.
http://illuminations.nctm.org/LessonDetail.aspx?id=L376 [nctm.org]

So no more helpful suggestions like this, please.

Re:Very, verrrrrrry bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194554)

Completely agree. To involve the military to destroy a satellite so that TV service is not interrupted is bordering on crazy. Unlike the military satellite, there is no risk of this satellite ever coming down. Hopefully people in decision making positions are not considering this.

No, and no. (2, Interesting)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194476)

"Will the military need to be called in to blow up the rogue Intelsat satellite meandering through Earth's orbit? Or maybe a NASA Space Shuttle could swing by and grab it?

What? The answer is no, and no.

First, this satellite is at geosynchronous orbit altitude. That is a hundred times higher than the altitude of the satellite that was downed by the ground-based missile. You can't reach it with that weapon, and you absolutely, certainly can't "grab it" with the space shuttle. No. Not even close. Not even close to close.

Also, note that the satellite that was downed was in very low orbit. The significance of that was that all the pieces of it were in very low orbit, and hence they decayed in the atmosphere within a very short time of its destruction. The very worst, stupidest possible thing ever to do would be to "blow up the rogue satellite," because debris from a blown-up satellite in geosynchronous orbit would not decay, but would stay in the geosynchronous orbit pretty much forever. This would be a very bad thing.

Abscond (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194538)

> Satellite: Abscond

Can't abscond, bro!

I thought Network World had some smarts (1)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194686)

How did this get published on NetworkWorld's site? As other comments have pointed out, this is a completely ridiculous idea on so many levels it's laughable. Yet TFA seems to be serious!

Space Bolas? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194696)

Why not just attach a long, weighted tether to it? Use a magnet to hold it on and the change in center of mass will pull put rotation on it, like a bolas [wikipedia.org] . Once it is spinning around the new center of mass, you can disconnect the weight (by radio) and send it on a higher orbit. Then you only have two pieces of trash - one going out (the satallite), one coming in (the weight) and you can control the release time so that it comes in over the pacific. Then you only have one piece of trash headed away from the Earth.

Space is non-militarized (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194724)

thanks to a treaty. People from the USA naturally assume it would be them that would blow it up. However, consider the noise that would be generated in the USA if Russia took on the task of blowing up the satellite.

If the satellite has to be blown up, it should not matter if it is Russia, China or the USA which does the work. It is non-military, after all.

Obligatory XKCD: Gravity Wells (4, Informative)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#32194752)

http://xkcd.com/681_large/ [xkcd.com]
In particular, look at the panel of Earth, which is under Uranus and Neptune, lower right.

Geez, XKCD should win the Pulitzer Prize for this graphic. If a picture is worth a KiloWord, this is worth a MegaWord of explanation. This should be required viewing in all 8th Grade science classes.

tractor beams! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32194802)

now is a good time to invent one.

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