DailyDirt: Who's Going To Clean Up All The Space Junk?

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Putting satellites and spacecraft into low earth orbit is getting easier and less expensive all the time, but that also means we’re possibly creating even more orbiting space junk around our planet — without any way to remove this garbage. Man-made space debris is already a problem, and as we shoot more stuff up into space, it could become an even bigger problem. There are at least a few folks who are concerned about space pollution, but there aren’t that many workable solutions (yet).

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Who's Going To Clean Up All The Space Junk?”

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Scott Gardner (profile) says:

It’s not entirely true that there’s “no way to remove this garbage”. Not every satellite that goes into orbit is destined to become space junk occupying a desirable orbital slot.

If a satellite still has fuel left at the end of its service life, it can be slowed down in a controlled manner so that it de-orbits at the time and place of our choosing. Likewise, satellites up in geosynchronous orbits can have their orbits adjusted to move them even further outward into a super-synchronous “graveyard” orbit, where there aren’t any operational satellites and collisions aren’t a problem.

abc gum says:

Re: Re:

De-orbit is a viable solution for operational satellites, although it is not always employed or even available as an option when a satellite is at or near end of life.

Russian and US satellites collide

Short of escape velocity, increasing the orbit is not a long term solution as the orbit will decay.

Proper procedures for future operations would be a step in the right direction, however there is still a lot of junk in orbit which will cause problems.

jakerome (profile) says:

Space budgets...

aren’t like normal budgets. $80 million (40 tons at $1000/pound) is cheap, really, and pays off by avoiding even one lost satellite. The downside is that EVERY low-earth satellite would be slowed by this debris, leading to shorter lifespans for all low earth satellites. That’s because fuel is needed to keep the satellite from slowing too much, and running out of fuel is often the life-limiting factor for satellites. It might be interesting as a 1-off, since there’s tons (literally) of uncontrolled space debris largely from the early years of space programs when there was less concern about junk.

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