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ISS Orbit-Raising Attempt Fails

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the go-for-the-burn-baby dept.

Space 329

hpulley writes "ITAR-TASS reports that the Progress cargo ship currently docked at the ISS attempted an orbit raising burn this morning but the engine failed three minutes into the firing. Further burns are cancelled until they figure out the problem and meanwhile, the station continues to lose approximately a kilometer of altitude every week, with the rate increasing as the orbit decays. At present, the schedule says the next Progress, 20P, will be launched on December 21st, nearly 9 weeks from now. Normally the shuttle would also raise the orbit of ISS but it is not scheduled to launch until May 3rd at the earliest. Nominally the ISS orbits at 358km but if it drops to 300km, it may decay in a matter of days. It was down to 340km already on October 13th."

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The Keith Curtis Solution! (0, Offtopic)

Keith Curtis (923118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827539)

Put a little Keith Curtis on that bad boy!

AmeriKKKa (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827549)

AmeriKKKans invented chewing gum to look just uglier. Propz to the Uncle "SS"am !

Fuck it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13827558)

Let it burn. Waste of money. Focus on the Moon.

Re:Fuck it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13827568)

I bet you won't be so smug when it lands on your house.

Re:Fuck it (1)

kd5ujz (640580) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827978)

You must be new to this re-entry thing.

Re:Fuck it (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13828053)

That's not what your mom said last night.

Update (5, Informative)

hpulley (587866) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827562)

Since I submitted the article, another report has said this morning's emergency is not a problem, and they may attempt another orbit raising burn today. There is lots of time to make a correction and the orbit is OK for now.

Re:Update (4, Funny)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827735)

So which of these stories is true? I don't want to flame on the wrong story!

Re:Update (1)

hpulley (587866) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827943)

Both are true but the original submission was based upon an article ten hours older than the new one. It takes a while for submissions to show up.

Re:Update (3, Funny)

Spackler (223562) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827948)

So which of these stories is true? I don't want to flame on the wrong story!

And, which one is technically a dupe, because I don't want to flame the wrong editor.

Re:Update (4, Funny)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828120)

You just ruined our chance to panic and flame about ISS falling from the sky. Thanks a lot! Sheesh...You and your hard facts

Rather alarmist story... (2, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827563)


The story gives the impression that the ISS is in some sort of dire predicament, however, upon doing the math, one can see that the ISS has roughly 9 months of orbit still in front of it.

Tempest, meet teacup.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (0)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827581)

Did I miss something? I thought that in space there is no 'drag', so once something is in orbit, it stays in orbit... or are they not in 'space' per-se, but still in some very very low density part of the earth's atmosphere?

Re:Rather alarmist story... (3, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827635)


Actually, the Earth's atmosphere extends out to roughly 2000 kilometers or so. Spacecraft orbiting within 2000 kilometers are slowly spiraling in, due to the the tiny amount of air resistance.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (2, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827650)

As I understand it, Orbit just means that your velocity forward is just compensating for the downward pull the Earth's gravity is imposing on you. So, you're actually falling constantly while you're in orbit, but you're moving away from the Earth horizontally fast enough so you stay at a fairly constant distance from the planet.

I know that's a crappy explanation, but I'm not a rocket scientist. I'm sure you'll get at least one rocket scientist responding to you explaining it better, though.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (3, Informative)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827949)

As I understand it, Orbit just means that your velocity forward is just compensating for the downward pull the Earth's gravity is imposing on you. So, you're actually falling constantly while you're in orbit, but you're moving away from the Earth horizontally fast enough so you stay at a fairly constant distance from the planet.

A better way to think about it is in terms of forces, not velocities. In order for an object to travel in a circle, there must be an inward-directed force, a centripetal force. Imagine you're swinging a ball on a string around your head. The ball travels in a circle because the string is continually applying an inward-directed force to it. For an object in orbit, this inward-directed force is gravity.

The image of the craft continually "missing" the Earth is not as useful, because the size of the Earth really isn't relevant to the question of orbit -- only its mass is. An object can orbit whenever its speed is less than the escape velocity. It's just that some orbits, unfortunately, intersect with the surface of the Earth.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (-1)

mahdi13 (660205) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827716)

There's this thing called 'gravity' that has a tendency to pull objects towards it.
In a 'decaying orbit' the object is slowly getting pulled towards a gravity well (in this case ISS towards Earth) and as the object gets closer to the well the gravitational pull increases.

the 'losing 1km per week' is the current rate, as it gets lower (closer to Earth) the rate of decent will increase until it passes that threshold and is completely pulled in by the gravity...turning it into a very large fireball as it plummets and crashes somewhere, hopefully into an ocean or somewhere unpopulated as I'm sure it would make a very big bang when it hits :)

Re:Rather alarmist story... (2, Informative)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827918)

Gravity has nothing to do with a decreasing orbit. If you imagine a universe with only two objects near each other, and no atmospheres, the objects will always orbit at the same distance. Gravity is a critical part of the orbit itself, but nothing else. Play with this Java applet [msstate.edu] or this applet [colorado.edu] for a couple minutes to see what I mean.

The lowering of the orbit is primarily due to atmospheric drag, as mentioned in other posts.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (2, Interesting)

mahdi13 (660205) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828201)

Being 'overrated' lets add more fuel to the fire :)

Those applets are nice but they both rely on constants, as if gravity never changes. There are lots of things that can change the orbit of an object, different areas of the Earth have greater pull then others (oceans don't have as much 'pull' as say continents and the Moon is a huge variable.
Atmospheric drag is another that can not be calculated as well as other variables.

Simply put, there are too many things that 'could' happen for someone to expect long term stability in an orbit. These 'orbital correction' burns are very common in any orbiting body and the closer they are to the planet the more often they are needed.

Troll: Last I heard was the the Moon is in a decaying orbit and is expected to crash into the Earth within the next 1 billion years or so =P

Re:Rather alarmist story... (0, Flamebait)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827950)

There's this thing called 'gravity' that has a tendency to pull objects towards it.

Yeah, but gravity is only a theory. It isn't a fact

P.S. Note to mods. No, this isn't flamebaiting or trolling. Having a supposed scientist claim that astrology could fit under the definition of a theory [ydr.com] reminds me of the morons who keep using the phrase re: evolution: but it's only a theory, not a fact, when in fact evolution is a fact but the theory of evolution, that which describes the process, is not a fact. Just like gravity is a fact but the Theory of Gravity is not. The Theory only attempts to describe the fact (gravity)

Re:Rather alarmist story... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13827746)

Did I miss something? I thought that in space there is no 'drag', so once something is in orbit, it stays in orbit... or are they not in 'space' per-se, but still in some very very low density part of the earth's atmosphere?

They are in LEO, Low Earth Orbit, with emphasis on Low. So yes, there is some drag from the "atmosphere".

The mistake you're making is to think there's some sort of sharp dividing line between "atmosphere" and "space". NASA defines "space" as beginning about 50 miles above the earth, but traces of atmosphere extend well above that.

Eh, well, it's a matter of scale (5, Interesting)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827614)

Nine months might sound like a long while. But consider the lead times for rockets. Can an unscheduled mission be planned, built, prepped, tested, rubberstamped and shot into orbit inside nine months?

Yes (2, Informative)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827808)

There are aproximately 4 scheduled Progress missions per year. 12 months divided by four = 3 months lead time.

-everphilski-

more than three months (3, Insightful)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827923)

4 missions per year does not mean 3 months lead time.

Astronauts train for over a year for their flights. Missions are being prepared for concurrently. I do not know what the required lead time is, but it's undoubtedly greater than 3 months.

Seth

Re:more than three months (1)

hpulley (587866) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827980)

Additionally, the orbit is being raise for the purpose of the December docking with the next Progress ship. With a lower orbit, the docking is made more complicated.

Re:Yes (1)

DeafByBeheading (881815) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827966)

Um, you're taking for granted that the lead times don't overlap with the other missions...

Re:Eh, well, it's a matter of scale (5, Funny)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827879)

Sure. You ever see Armageddon?

Re:Eh, well, it's a matter of scale (2, Funny)

BarneyRubble (180091) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827954)

They can if they send the secret military shuttle

They won't need an unscheduled mission... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13828188)

They'll just reboost with the next scheduled Progress or Soyuz and be done with it. That's if they don't decide it's a big enough emergency and just use the rockets on the Zvedza Service Module to reboost.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13827615)

uh, your calculation isn't correct...the rate of decay isn't a linear function, so burnup would be something less than 9 months away.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (-1)

numbski (515011) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827623)

No...

The current orbit is 340km. It is decaying at a rate of ~1km/day. If it drops below 300km, it is going to come down much faster, a matter of days.

So they have 40 days + a few days to get this straight, however I suspect that the raising of the orbit above 300km if it drops below that will get to be very difficult.

That said, if everything fails, it'll come down just after of December 1, 2005. Early holiday season fireworks. :\

Re:Rather alarmist story... (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827655)

Correction. 340km was 6 days ago, so it would come down almost exactly on December 1.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13827686)

(1km/week)

Re:Rather alarmist story... (2, Informative)

descentr (296258) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827736)

It is one kilometer per week, not per day.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (1, Troll)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827714)


No...

From the summary:
and meanwhile, the station continues to lose approximately a kilometer of altitude every week

And from the referenced article:
Normally, ISS daily goes down by 100-150 meters experts say.

If we assume the worst (150 m/day), the station will drop by 1,024 m in a week.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828065)

just to be pedantic:
150 * 7 = 1050

Re:Rather alarmist story... (0, Troll)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828123)

Thanks for the correction...I meant to type 1,050, but somehow, it came out 1,024....just have a thing for powers of 2, I guess... ^_^

Re:Rather alarmist story... (3, Insightful)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827695)

Reading the summary makes me think either the PR firm who wrote it doesn't understand acceleration, or expects us to be unable to.

The orbit could currently be decaying at 1km/wk, but that is less useful than saying the paperclip I just dropped is currently traveling at 15m/s.

In order to convey the predicament of the ISS the article should mention altitude, downward velocity, and acceleration.

Re:Rather alarmist story... (0, Offtopic)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827959)

It's [stormloader.com] tempest [eskimo.com] in a teapot [sjbaker.org] , not [ort.org] a teacup [anycities.com] .

Re:Rather alarmist story... (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828187)

Is there something about the image that doesn't work if you say "teacup" instead of "teapot"?

In soviet Russia... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13827570)

.....the engine fails you....whatever....

Seriously, whose idea is to use Russian engines for this task? When was the last time they produced a non-faling space technology? (N-1 Moon mission anyone??)

Re:In soviet Russia... (1)

Morgalyn (605015) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827611)

I think you have failed to remember their considerable role in creating, staffing, and maintaining the ISS..

Re:In soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13827919)

That's true... sort of. Don't forget that the US has made a duplicate of every piece of the ISS that the Russians have built, b/c they were prone to failure and/or inexactitudes which could render them useless.

Re:In soviet Russia... (1)

Morgalyn (605015) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828100)

Well, redudancies are always good in a critical system... especially ones that have been manufactured to be the same, but at different facilities... but yeah. Mostly I just wanted to point out that the Russians have had a /lot/ to do with the success (?) of the ISS.

Re:In soviet Russia... (4, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827754)

Well, they have the Soyuz capsules, which were first designed in the 1960s and are currently supplying the ISS because our own shuttles keep blowing up. There was also the Mir, which was falling apart toward the end but still lasted far beyond when its original specs said it would die.

The Russians have had a lot of stuff blow up, but so have the Americans. They have also built a lot of really great technology that is in active use right now.

Re:In soviet Russia... (0, Flamebait)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827872)

our own shuttles keep blowing up

Twice means "keep blowing up?" I suppose three would mean "always blow up?"

Re:In soviet Russia... (1)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827899)

Okay, so I was being flippant. More accurately, we are having a lot of trouble keeping our shuttles flying at the necessary frequency that the ISS demands due to various problems with the spacecraft and the organization itself. Soyuz has helped to pick up a lot of the slack.

Don't get me wrong, I have a tremendous amount of respect for NASA and the shuttle program. I was just trying to put to rest the idea that the Russian space program has only made junk.

Re:In soviet Russia... (2, Funny)

jotok (728554) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827983)

"But you fuck one goat..."

Re:In soviet Russia... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827964)

The Russians have had a lot of stuff blow up, but so have the Americans.

The key difference being that when our stuff blows up we ground it and go back to the drawing board to figure out what went wrong. The Russians (in the Soviet days) would build pretty much the exact same design and find a "volunteer" to test it again.

Think I'm stereotyping? Read about all the "volunteers" who went into Chernobyl. Read about the soldiers in Stalingrad who were told to pick up rifles from fallen comrades because they didn't have enough to go around.

Then there's also the differences in design philosophy. The Russians take KISS to the extreme. Contrast that with the Germans who completely over-design everything (ever had to buy parts for a German car?). Americans usually fall somewhere in the middle.

Re:In soviet Russia... (0)

Comics (464489) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827990)

As has been said, Russia has had a number of pretty successful projects. How much can you say about NASA recently? The space shuttle project is falling apart, they're planning repeating Apollo for whatever reason, there were a bunch of failed Mars missions, Hubble's future looks bleak, etc.

Tinfoil hat (4, Funny)

squoozer (730327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827587)

You'll need more than your tin foil hat if the ISS lands on you.

Re:Tinfoil hat (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827665)

A feature on the ISS's sleeping quarters was actually the inspiration behind a feature on my limited edition pet foil hat technology. It includes a polyethylene layer for added protection from radiation. I used it in the form of a plastic shopping bag though, and the ISS will be using the newer NASA invented form of the hydrocarbon that may one day make up the lining of every spaceship headed to Mars or outside of the earth's magnetic field.

Re:Tinfoil hat (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827761)

You'll need more than your tin foil hat if the ISS lands on you.

Google earth links, pls? :D (or should that be Google decaying orbit?)

They said I was daft (5, Funny)

convex_mirror (905839) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827594)

for building an orbiting space station without any real scientific purpose, but I built it anyway. And then its orbit decayed and it burned up upon reentry, so I built another one . . . /message for you sir

Re:They said I was daft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13828073)

"And then its orbit decayed and it burned up upon reentry,"

and crashed into a swamp,

"so I built another one . . ."

Re:They said I was daft (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828113)

I dunno...stats on the ISS [wikipedia.org] helped me figure out [slashdot.org] how large a Dyson sphere could be. (At 1 au, it turns out to be a shell about 2km thick, assuming transmutation is available.)

The assumption is, the density of a future stationary habitable space construct could easily be near that allowed by present-day technology. And technology improves, so 2km is actually a conservative estimate.

Heavens-above! (5, Informative)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827596)

This isn't a good situation, but barring future disasters I'm confident that they'll get a ship up there to boost the ISS to a level where it can be saved for many more decades.

If you want to see the graphical representation of the ISS's altitude, there's a nice chart at Heavens-above.com [heavens-above.com] It's a free sign-up, and the bonus is you can find out when ISS flies over your house so you can see it or even take pictures like I do sometimes.

I had noticed just a few days ago that the orbit was at its lowest point, and was getting concerned about what they were going to do about it.

Details on Re-Boost (4, Informative)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827617)

The first burn will be performed at 5:09pm for 705 seconds, the second at 6:33pm for 700 sec, both with 2.94 m/s delta-V each. Main purpose of the reboost is to set up proper orbit phasing for Progress 20 launch. [The burns will be performed by eight DPO-BT thrusters of Progress 19, from the #1 manifold and will be controlled in attitude by Service Module MNFD thrusters from both manifolds. The 19P burns are steered by the SM motion control & navigation system (SUDN) via the US-21 matching unit (installed in 19P on 9/13). The propulsion systems were tested successfully on 9/15.]

They got 170 seconds out of 1405 seconds or about 12% of a burn. MOSCOW, October 19 (Itar-Tass) --A cargo ship docked at the International Space Station (ISS) fired its engine Wednesday to raise the space research platform into a higher orbit but in about three minutes the engine failed and the operation was canceled.

The correction was to boost the space station more than 10 kilometers further from Earth into an orbit that was to reach 356.8 kilometers on the average.

Normally, ISS goes down by 100-150 meters daily. That's about 3-5KM a month.

Also, there are no Shuttles ready that could boost the orbit either, so the Russians are the ONLY method right now. I'm not sure how fast the Russians can send up another Progess if the one currently docked can't get the job done. This IS a serious risk to the station and crew, but it's not panic time.

Re:Details on Re-Boost (1)

steve.m (80410) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827912)


Also, there are no Shuttles ready that could boost the orbit either, so the Russians are the ONLY method right now. I'm not sure how fast the Russians can send up another Progess if the one currently docked can't get the job done. This IS a serious risk to the station and crew, but it's not panic time.


Using the Progress is only one way to do it, they could always fire the engines on the Zvezda [russianspaceweb.com] Service Module [boeing.com]

There is an obvious problem with the Progress, but I think they only use the Progress reboost because otherwise it's propellant (used to rendezvous, dock and de-orbit) is wasted. The Progress refuels the SM from seperate tanks.

If it fell... (5, Funny)

Tachikoma (878191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827621)

and landed in kansas...would it make a sound?

Re:If it fell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13828118)

More importantly, would anyone care?

Re:If it fell... (1)

ClippyHater (638515) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828126)

No, because the tornado would suck it straight back into space.

The sky is falling. (4, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827634)

That sucks, but I think someone is being a bit sensational. They have almost a year to correct this. They have a mission planned in two months, by that time it will still be at least 330km up. They have been that low before. Also, by your own link, it takes at least three weeks for the orbit to decay from 300km, I have seen others that say up to 3 months. Neither of those are "a matter of days".

Someone's in trouble... (1)

g4c (919548) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827638)

I wonder who spaced out on the job and let this happen...

C'mon, guys! (5, Funny)

The Madd Rapper (886657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827646)

This isn't rocket science.

In other news... (3, Funny)

squoozer (730327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827656)

Fed up with watching others make impact craters on Mars the international consortium building the ISS have decided to up the ante by making a crater on Earth. Since the only thing they have in space is the ISS it was odds on that they would chose this to crash into Earth. Reports say that it should be a spectacular show especially for the people it hits.

Re:In other news... (4, Funny)

IIH (33751) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828097)

Since the only thing they have in space is the ISS it was odds on that they would chose this to crash into Earth. Reports say that it should be a spectacular show especially for the people it hits.

The last time a space station crashed, several people had a mir death experience!

I trust the Russians on this. (3, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827662)

These Russians have years of experience in the field. Heck, they had MIR for 15 years. That is, 3 times the time it was intendd to last. Sad that we as Americans can only sit and observe at least for now. Even aftr pumping billions into our space program, I will not be suuprised if things just do not work for us.

Skylab (4, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827670)

Will the same thing happen to ISS that happened to Skylab [wikipedia.org] ? A series of incidents (generally involving funding) that results in the space station sinking below a level that it could be lifted out.

Of course there are people in ISS, so it's perhaps a bit too early to wonder if funding would be delayed long enough for ISS to fall to Earth.

Re:Skylab (2, Informative)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827897)

Skylab was also waiting for the shuttle to boost its orbit. The shuttle never made it.

Re:Skylab (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828155)

With all of the shuttle problems we have now, I am starting to see history repeat itself.

Solution? (3, Interesting)

waterlogged (210759) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827720)

So why haven't they put that tether experiment on the ISS that the shuttle ran a number of years ago. Basically it was able to turn orbital motion into electricity or electicity to motion. Next trip take them up a tether and a bunch of solar cell and Fagetaboutit.

Easy answer (4, Funny)

The name is Dave. Ja (845139) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827882)

Finally, all that spam provides the answer:

Problems keeping it up?
Get v1ag.ra, x4na.x etc. mailed direct to your ISS and end your low-orbit problems with the ladies forever.

OK, jokes over.

--
__________

  Pre|ension is in the eye of the beholder

Real Genius (1)

mahdi13 (660205) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827894)

"Isn't that the satellite that's raining debris all over Europe?"

Scuttle it (0, Flamebait)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827906)

The ISS is scientifically worthless and squanders huge amounts of resources far better spent on unmanned missions. It is nothing but an excuse to funnel vast amounts of federal money to aerospace and defense companies for little return.

Manned space exploration inhibits space science and space exploration by wasting the lion's share of space funding on this glorified elitist amusement park ride and hypertrophied high school science fair project. The shuttle is equally worthless and should also be abandoned.

Re:Scuttle it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828110)

This was pretty much my thought. The ISS is pure pork. Let's just let it crash into the ocean someplace, maybe I'll get a free taco or some shrimp out of it.

Electric Stationkeeping method? (1, Interesting)

TigerNut (718742) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827922)

Here's a dumb idea: Hook a long coaxial cable with a sizable mass (how about a dead satellite?) onto the ISS. Then feed electrical power through the cable (up the center, down the outer jacket) so that the vector crossproduct of the current and the earth's magnetic field act to accelerate the ISS. How much power is required to keep the orbit from decaying, i.e. can this power be reasonably supplied by the existing or an additional solar array? A scheme like this would reduce or eliminate the dependence on periodic orbit boosts by cranky Russian rockets or once-in-whenever Space Shuttle flights.

Re:Electric Stationkeeping method? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828058)

Then feed electrical power through the cable (up the center, down the outer jacket) so that the vector crossproduct of the current and the earth's magnetic field act to accelerate the ISS.

The magnetic field of the current flowing up the center would cancel the field of the current flowing down the outer jacket at any significant distance from the cable. You want a loop, not a coaxial cable. And the necessary current would be huge.

Re:Electric Stationkeeping method? (1)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828192)

A scheme like this would reduce or eliminate the dependence on periodic orbit boosts by cranky Russian rockets or once-in-whenever Space Shuttle flights.

Or we can ask the Chinese Taikonauts to give them a boost. May be they'll serve the ISS crew some space-ready kung-pao chicken; and that will go well with Tang orange juice I bet!

Obligatory SG-1 quote (1)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827947)

"Carter, I can see my house from here!"

Re:Obligatory SG-1 quote (1)

GotenXiao (863190) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828146)

I'll forgive the slight misquote. It's actually "Carter, I can see my HOUSE."

Then they jump to hyperspace *THROUGH* the planet, dragging a giant naquadah-enhanced meteor with them. Good episode :P

Please explain for me (3, Interesting)

joeslugg (8092) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827957)

IANARocketScientist, and for those other readers who aren't can someone please explain:

Why don't they have ISS in a higher orbit that won't decay as fast/often? And again, pardon my ignorance, but my (un)common sense tells me if they are at a high enough orbit, it shouldn't decay as readily - too high and you have the opposite problem of drifting farther away from Earth.

In other words, rather than having to make orbit adjustments so often, isn't it possible to push it to a high enough orbit that won't require a tweak for a longer period of time?

TIA for n00b-enlightenment.

Re:Please explain for me (2, Informative)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828070)

Basically the reason is that as is, it's about as high as is practical for the shuttle to reach. Any higher and the effective cargo lift to it would be 0.

It's in the orbit it is in... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13828076)

so that it can be serviced by both Russian Soyuz and Progress craft launched from Khazikstan, and the Shuttle from Florida.

Re:Please explain for me (4, Informative)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828116)

Why don't they have ISS in a higher orbit that won't decay as fast/often?

Because then it would be in a higher orbit :-) Harder to reach, takes more fuel to carry heavy stuff up there, more interaction with the moon, etc. You typically want a human-occupied space station to be closer to the planet.

Re:Please explain for me (2)

djmurdoch (306849) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828127)

If it's in a higher orbit, it takes more time and fuel to get there. (Think about climbing one flight of stairs compared to climbing two.)

If it's in a lower orbit, there is more atmospheric drag, so the orbit tends to decay faster.

So they need to balance these two things.

By the way, being "too high" won't make you drift away from Earth until you're *really* high, where the gravity of other objects (the moon, other planets, the sun, etc.) start playing a big role. You'd get into a stable orbit above any appreciable atmospheric drag long before that.

Excellent...... (2)

m93 (684512) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827984)

Perhaps the thing will tumble from the sky into the middle of the ocean. That would accomplish what a lot of people would like to see done. (A government conspiracy to end it at work here? hmmmmmm.) There are many arguments on either side of this coin that are valid, but I for one am going with the school of thought that says that our commitment to this station is something that is impeding the progress of our space mission. I would hate to see all of the effort and money that has thus far been expended gone to waste, but I would also like to see future opportunities for exploration made available. If you want to save something, save Hubble for crying out loud.

Re:Excellent...... (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828052)

Hear, hear!

I second the motion!

Why can't it do it itself? (1)

macmills (923666) | more than 8 years ago | (#13827993)

Why does the ISS need to be boosted by external rockets rather then doing it itself? Shouldn't it have this type of stuff built in? Did they think about what would happen if we were unable to get into space? The simple fact that they had to go through all of this sounds pretty dumb to me

Re:Why can't it do it itself? (4, Funny)

pclminion (145572) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828176)

Why does the ISS need to be boosted by external rockets rather then doing it itself?

The orbital correction is a perpetual process. Therefore, the ISS would require a perpetual supply of fuel if it had its own rockets. This infinitely massive space station would immediately suck in the Earth, become a black hole, and devour the solar system, followed by the universe.

No, I think that's not gonna work.

I'm buying marshmellows to toast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13828010)

I hope that damn things comes flaming down. I will gladly roast marshmellows over the smouldering remains of this no-good, waste-of-money, pork-politic monstrousity. It and the shuttle have been an insane diversion driven by politics instead of science that has held back the US manned space program the last 30 years.

 

I've seen this one. (0)

Peldor (639336) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828011)

They'll have to start jettisoning parts and equipment from the station in a few months to reduce the mass of the station. Then when they start the last-ditch effort to boost the station, ground control will radio that they've checked the calculations six ways from Sunday and they're still 100 lbs too heavy.

The crew will draw straws. Ben Affleck loses and Bruce Willis has to knock his punk ass out before sacrificing himself.

Nice... (0, Troll)

TomRC (231027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828048)

...So we'll be RID of the useless thing within a year.

Avion flu? (5, Funny)

dbleoslow (650429) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828059)

A chicken ran by me today yelling, "The sky is falling!!!" I thought he was just delirious from the flu.

How my life and the ISS are entwined.. (2, Funny)

modi123 (750470) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828109)

Much like how the ISS is slowly decaying orbit over the next NINE months - which will end in atmospheric burnout, my life equally will slip into decay as my next nine months play out, and BAM! Fiery burnout!

Damn you defective condom, damn you! *shaking fist at sky* We should have put a condom on the shuttles!

What about tourism? (1)

sfled (231432) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828119)


Will tourism to the ISS go down because of the "impending doom" scenario, or will it go up because of the "let's see it before it's gone" mentality?

Here's an idea... (1)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 8 years ago | (#13828133)

As I recall, the US and Russia aren't the only ones with a space program anymore.

Couldn't we call in a favor from China and get 'em to send up another Shenzhou rocket? I know their docking ports don't fit into the one on ISS, but you don't technically have to dock with the station to boost it...

1. Shenzhou capsule maneuvers near station
2. Grappling arm grabs a piece of capsule
3. Shenzhou begins burn
4. Grappling arm holds on tight, station accelerates.
5. Problem solved. NASA breathes collective sigh of relief, thanks China for their help.

Free tacos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13828182)

If it hits the target Taco Bell put out for MIR, do we all get free tacos?
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