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Wed Jan 29, 2020, 02:43 PM

Two dead satellites might collide above the US today

Source: CNN

There is a possibility that two inactive satellites currently in low Earth orbit will collide on Wednesday above the US, according to space debris tracking service LeoLabs. If the two satellites crash into each other, the collision will result in thousands of pieces of small space debris which will pose a massive risk to other satellites in space.

LeoLabs tweeted Monday that astronomers are monitoring the close approach of two decades-old satellites which will come within 13 to 87 meters of each other at 6:39 p.m. EST. There is a 1 in 1,000 chance that the two will collide. While 1 in 1,000 sounds very unlikely, that probability poses an extremely high risk in the space industry. Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told CNN that the likelihood of the satellites colliding is "extremely alarming." The large size of the satellites combined increases the possibility of a collision, according to LeoLabs.

"It isn't as unlikely as it usually is," McDowell said. "We start getting worried when it's 1 in 10,000, so 1 in 1,000 is unusual and it might actually be a lot worse than that." The two inactive satellites include NASA's IRAS space telescope which was launched in 1983 and the experimental US Naval Research Lab spy satellite GGSE-4, launched in 1967. The satellites will pass by each other Wednesday evening about 559 miles above Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at nearly 33,000 miles per hour. Since both satellites are dead, astronomers have no way of communicating with them and initiating maneuvers.






Read more: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/29/us/dead-satellites-collide-us-scn-trnd/index.html

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Response to Mr. Sparkle (Original post)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 02:54 PM

1. The worry is that we'll start seeing a chain reaction ...

The last time a massive collision occurred was in 2009 when an inactive Russian communications satellite collided with an active communications satellite, resulting in 2,000 pieces of debris and thousands more smaller pieces.

"The worry is that we'll start seeing a chain reaction where all the satellites kill each other with shrapnel and space becomes unusable," McDowell told CNN.

"... even if you never go to space you're using space technology, with things like GPS, internet, and satellite communications. So there's a lot of concern."

There are currently 250,000 pieces of debris in low Earth orbit, Ceperley told CNN. This debris remains in orbit for decades, and even centuries.


At these speeds, I've read that a fleck of paint is enough to penetrate an astronaut's spacesuit and kill her/him.

The Space Station often has to manuver to avoid space debris ... and that's only debris that is large enough for the debris trackers on the ground to detect.

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Response to progree (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:18 PM

5. The sky is falling!!! Over Pittsburgh, "best case scenario is they miss by 80ft"

Heads up

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Response to Baclava (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:27 PM

9. We're in the Catskills in NE Pennsylvania

We're probably on the track for the debris that de-orbits.

Where's my football helmet?...

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Response to Baclava (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:36 PM

10. Just messaged my peeps in Pittsburgh

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Response to Maggiemayhem (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 04:03 PM

13. 6:39 local time, 500 miles up, what are the odds....

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Response to progree (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:42 PM

11. While objects in LEO are a significant problem,

those in GEO (satellite TV and radio, internet, etc) and 12-hour orbits (GPS) are not . for now.

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Response to Mr. Sparkle (Original post)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:02 PM

2. Time for:

SPACE FORCE!!

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Response to Bayard (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:09 PM

4. It Space Force ain't ready, maybe we can get these guys ...

?itok=3tr-scz3

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Response to Mr. Sparkle (Original post)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:08 PM

3. the shotgun effect, AKA, the cheney effect. nt

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Response to Mr. Sparkle (Original post)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:23 PM

6. Where is the United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol when you need them?

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Response to Mr. Sparkle (Original post)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:24 PM

7. I heard best estimate is pass by at 30 meters (is 30 yards for American luddites). . . nt

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Response to Mr. Sparkle (Original post)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:26 PM

8. Am I insured for this?

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Response to Mr. Sparkle (Original post)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 03:52 PM

12. I hope they stay away from one another.

If not, we'll send Andy Griffith up to collect the pieces.
Remember his tv series 'Salvage 1'?

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Response to Talitha (Reply #12)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 05:38 PM

14. Do not

remember that. When was it on?

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Response to Rebl2 (Reply #14)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 06:08 PM

15. It was during 1979 - the pilot film was in January of that year.

Here's some info on the program: LINK

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Response to Talitha (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 30, 2020, 12:04 PM

18. I remember that show

didn't last long, and that's probably a good thing.

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Response to Mr. Sparkle (Original post)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 08:17 PM

16. missed!............maybe next time

Tonight, two well-tracked human satellites had a decent chance of colliding in space above Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Though reports as of 7PM ET suggest that the satellites just missed each other

https://www.salon.com/2020/01/29/two-space-satellites-may-collide-above-pittsburgh-tonight-heres-what-that-would-mean/

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Response to Baclava (Reply #16)

Thu Jan 30, 2020, 09:44 AM

17. Thanks for the update !

U.S. Space Command sent out this tweet this morning



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Response to Mr. Sparkle (Original post)

Fri Jan 31, 2020, 09:24 PM

19. It's time to build refuel-able spacecraft that can rendezvous with and de-orbit dead satellites

Trash collecting satellites would not need to be very large or extremely complex. They only need to have enough thrust and fuel to reach orbiting dead satellites and slow them down enough so they will de-orbit relatively soon. The trash collector Sat could attach to a dead Sat and use its thruster to get both to a low enough orbit for the dead one to de-orbit relatively soon. Ideally, the trash collector Sat could then change to an orbit where it could be refueled.

Once several Trash-collector Sats are on in orbit it probably makes sense to have a larger Sat that is mostly a large fuel tank with some repair robotics and parts to fix the Trash-collector Sats.

I understand there are military satellites from several countries that don't want anything approaching them. However, if we don't start getting rid of the dead satellites and other trash. all the military and other satellites will no longer be available nor will our access to space.

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