General Discussion > Advanced Concepts

Kessler on the Kessler Syndrome (March 8, 2009)

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Warren Platts:

--- Quote from: khallow on 03/15/2009 07:26 am ---1. Exponential growth cannot happen in the absence of exponentially growing resources.
--- End quote ---
It's true that the number of space launches worldwide has been declining for some time now.

http://www.geocities.com/launchreport/blog010.html

However, the population of space objects grows not so much by the addition of new hardware, but by the fissioning of old hardware. In a biological ecology, as Darwin and Malthus pointed out long ago, there is always something that will reign in exponential growth: predators, disease, bad weather, or simply eating up the available food supply. In space, however, the "organisms" are virtually immortal. There are no predators to speak of as of yet, and there are no corrosive diseases that can cause them to disintegrate from the inside out. There has been some bad weather lately: increased solar wind activity has puffed up the Earth's atmosphere somewhat, and so that definitely helps within the lower levels of LEO--but the solar-induced "drought" seems to be abating. Moreover, space "organisms" don't have to worry about food because they don't eat. Like biological organisms, however, (with the exception of parthenogentic hydrazine tanks), space organisms must seek out a "mate" in order to reproduce. Finding a mate has proved difficult in the past, but it's becoming less and less of a problem because the probability that two organisms will find each other and reproduce is proportional to the square of the total population N. Like biological organisms, space reproduction typically involves a smaller male "seed" that is implanted into the larger female "egg". However, as we have just seen, space organisms reproduce best of all when two "females" get together. So the space ecology violates just about every rule of biology. Unfortunately, the laws of physics are no help either.

Warren Platts:

--- Quote from: mlorrey on 03/15/2009 02:34 am ---This seems to be a bit of bloviation by Kessler, plus there is a lack of logic here.

a) a few large orbiting structures is less risky than a lot of small ones. space structures will be modular. SPS' have never been considered for use in LEO, btw, so chicken littling about them is unsupported. One incident does not a trend make.
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It's too bad you weren't around 50 years ago to make this point! It's too late for that now. . . . (And Iridium 33/Cosmos 2251 were not first collision; it was just the first "accidental" collision between two fully intact satellites.)


--- Quote ---b) It is unfortunate that some folks want their own navigation constellations, logically everybody using the same one puts everybody on the same tactical level playing field. Using separate ones implies that those developing new systems are intent on jamming the US' GPS system and they consider the US a threat to their own military expeditions in the future. Thats a much bigger problem than whether more satellites collide, it implies an intentional stance for war.
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That's a good point. Some things are more important that space exploration--that's for sure.


--- Quote ---c) Rogue nations and NGO's will need their own space programs to put anything in orbit, and would need to do so illicitly, or somehow hijack existing satellites.
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There are lots of good hackers out there. Really, a hacker would need to get a hold of two things: (1) the "SP" high-accuracy elsets that USSTRATCOM have--presumably these can predict the position of satellites to ~10 m or better, and hence be useful for targeting, or else they wouldn't be a secret; and (2) the access codes to a private company's communication satellite maneuvering system--and how hard can that be to hack? So for $2,000 worth of computer equipment and the right skill set, it might be possible to destroy some satellites.


--- Quote from: Vacuum.Head ---5. The Moon looks good for what?
--- End quote ---
Local opportunities for manned space travel. Ironically, because of the Kessler syndrome, the Moon is probably a safer place for humans than LEO. Don't be surprised when the service mission to Hubble gets permanently scrubbed.

LegendCJS:

--- Quote from: Jim on 03/15/2009 11:24 am ---
--- Quote from: LegendCJS on 03/15/2009 03:27 am ---
But guess what: studies show you don't have to wait on SPS to clean out space.  For the price of one shuttle launch we could build an aiming turret for some of the national ignition source lasers that already exist and start de-orbiting space junk today.  The invested money would also yield advances in power beaming technologies and open up really effective space weapon/ satellite killer opportunities.  So while it would mean "open season" on space weapons and destroying working satellites up there, the space junk laser could clean up after it self just as easily.

--- End quote ---

There is a whole lot of bunk in that statement

1.  Cost is based on what
2.    ignition source lasers have limited number of firings.  Less than the number of human digits
3.  It can't deorbit HEO junk

--- End quote ---

If you wouldn't be so quick to jump on ideas that haven't been proven and take a moment to think about it...

1. For one cost is based on this and other scientific or Air-Force studys: 
http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/cst/csat20.pdf
http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/article/199923/000019992399A0814545.php
http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/article/199911/000019991199A0322295.php

Also if you don't trust the studies, realize that the technology behind building laser targeting turrets already exists in a highly developed form ala the ABL project.  And I can't imagine that the ground station they need to build for this idea would cost more or be more complicated than something like the Keck Observatory.

2.  Ignition source lasers do have a limited number of firings, but that limit is probably more to do with funding than physics.  In any case you would modify the source laser for less power and more firings in this application.  I was pointing out that building a large enough and powerful enough laser to do the job is something that we already know how to do and have been doing for decades.

3.  Anywhere that the laser beam can see, LEO, HEO, ... junk there can be given a change in momentum.  It might take repeated firings on repeated passes, but the junk's orbit can be perturbed.  Its just a technical problem of tracking and targeting.  As others have pointed out, the higher the orbit, the less necessary the debris removal anyway.  The only area that can't be "swept up" is the regions of the Geostationary orbits that are permanently below the horizon of the ground station.

Jim:

--- Quote from: LegendCJS on 03/15/2009 02:26 pm ---  For the price of one shuttle launch we could build an

--- End quote ---

When using the shuttle as comparison, it insinuates a orbital vehicle.  Additionally you reference the ABL, a flight experiment

A ground based laser is discussed on other threads

LegendCJS:

--- Quote from: Jim on 03/15/2009 09:13 pm ---
--- Quote from: LegendCJS on 03/15/2009 02:26 pm ---  For the price of one shuttle launch we could build an

--- End quote ---

When using the shuttle as comparison, it insinuates a orbital vehicle.  Additionally you reference the ABL, a flight experiment

A ground based laser is discussed on other threads


--- End quote ---

If your comments are meant to tell me that I am posting in the wrong thread, then I apologize.  Look at my post count: I'm new around here, and any unspoken rules about what can be discussed where that I may have broken were not broken intentionally.

I thought that since this thread was about space debris, then talking about proposals to counteract space debris was a valid line of conversation.   Especially since the OP seems to imply that space travel is doomed to because of increasing space junk.  I was trying to say that the OP's fears are unfounded, and provided the space debris laser example as justification.

By the way when referencing the "cost" of (insert noun or action here), I "insinuates" a monetary amount.  I don't know what your talking about otherwise. 

The ABL reference was meant to show that the technology to track complicated moving targets from other moving platforms already exists.  The ground station space debris laser will have a similarly difficult task.

EDIT:  Sorry Jim I just realized where you were coming form, I forgot that you posted the original doubts about the laser concept that I posted.  My original post did not make it clear that the laser "aiming turret" was a ground based installation.  I see the source of confusion now.  I would not believe my price numbers either if it was for an orbiting laser aiming turret.

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