Author Topic: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites  (Read 8672 times)

Offline IsaacKuo

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Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« on: 10/21/2011 02:01 PM »
DARPA's new "Phoenix" program seeks to harvest/repurpose dead satellites:

http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2011/10/20.aspx

I seem to recall some people here were interested in robotic servicing of GEO satellites.

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #1 on: 10/21/2011 06:54 PM »
Thanks Issac.
I have been writing and speaking about this concept for over 15 years and been told I was crazy too many times to count.
I wish them luck. This could be the game changer.

Steve Mickler

Offline Cherokee43v6

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #2 on: 10/21/2011 06:57 PM »
Well Crazy is what DARPA likes to throw money at.  After-all, their Autonomous Car challenge was pure science-fiction as little as 10 years ago.  What is impressive is that their little contests so often result in actual working equipment!

I greatly look forward to hearing the results of this one.
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline Jim

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #3 on: 10/21/2011 06:59 PM »
Thanks Issac.
I have been writing and speaking about this concept for over 15 years and been told I was crazy too many times to count.
I wish them luck. This could be the game changer.

Steve Mickler

Still crazy, because it won't be cost effective for decades.

The issue isn't the robotics.  The issue is the energy to and from GSO and the cost of launch.
« Last Edit: 10/21/2011 07:01 PM by Jim »

Offline Hop_David

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #4 on: 10/21/2011 07:17 PM »
DARPA's new "Phoenix" program seeks to harvest/repurpose dead satellites:

http://www.darpa.mil/NewsEvents/Releases/2011/10/20.aspx

That's pretty exciting. Thanks!

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #5 on: 10/21/2011 07:28 PM »
Thanks Issac.
I have been writing and speaking about this concept for over 15 years and been told I was crazy too many times to count.
I wish them luck. This could be the game changer.

Steve Mickler

Still crazy, because it won't be cost effective for decades.

The issue isn't the robotics.  The issue is the energy to and from GSO and the cost of launch.
Only if you don't change your ways of doing things. As you know, I have discussed using the aluminum as propellant for solar thermal rocket propulsion for reusable OTV's to move payloads from LEO to GEO where the dead sats are. NEO mining is so similar to sat harvesting that the same basic vehicle can do both (with different tools) and when that starts chemical rocketry may be used or solar thermal or electric with other propellants. Launch for anything thereafter would be to LEO only.
It is the 21st century - no longer the 20th.
Steve

Offline Jim

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #6 on: 10/21/2011 07:34 PM »

 Only if you don't change your ways of doing things. As you know, I have discussed using the aluminum as propellant

Not going to happen in near earth environment, totally nonviable.  the effects from aluminum in solid motors is still felt and there will be similar effects.

Offline Hop_David

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #7 on: 10/21/2011 09:01 PM »
Still crazy, because it won't be cost effective for decades.

The issue isn't the robotics.  The issue is the energy to and from GSO and the cost of launch.

Given propellant in GSO, a single robot could rendezvous with many sats.


Offline beb

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #8 on: 10/22/2011 02:11 PM »
Aside from the cost of launching such a scavenger to GEO I worry about all the debris created while tearing old sats apart to harvest their innards. Don't we have enough trouble with man-made trash in space already?

Offline Prober

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #9 on: 10/22/2011 09:14 PM »
Thanks Issac.
I have been writing and speaking about this concept for over 15 years and been told I was crazy too many times to count.
I wish them luck. This could be the game changer.

Steve Mickler

Still crazy, because it won't be cost effective for decades.

The issue isn't the robotics.  The issue is the energy to and from GSO and the cost of launch.

on the other hand in a "time of war" cost will be trumped by the needs to keep operations running?
2017 - Everything Old is New Again.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ by Thomas Alva Edison

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #10 on: 10/22/2011 09:16 PM »

 Only if you don't change your ways of doing things. As you know, I have discussed using the aluminum as propellant

Not going to happen in near earth environment, totally nonviable.  the effects from aluminum in solid motors is still felt and there will be similar effects.
Jim we've already discussed this - the aluminum is exhausted as a gas and doesn't have anything to condense on.

Offline Jim

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #11 on: 10/22/2011 09:19 PM »

 Only if you don't change your ways of doing things. As you know, I have discussed using the aluminum as propellant

Not going to happen in near earth environment, totally nonviable.  the effects from aluminum in solid motors is still felt and there will be similar effects.
Jim we've already discussed this - the aluminum is exhausted as a gas and doesn't have anything to condense on.

It will combine into particles

Offline Jim

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #12 on: 10/22/2011 09:20 PM »
Thanks Issac.
I have been writing and speaking about this concept for over 15 years and been told I was crazy too many times to count.
I wish them luck. This could be the game changer.

Steve Mickler

Still crazy, because it won't be cost effective for decades.

The issue isn't the robotics.  The issue is the energy to and from GSO and the cost of launch.

on the other hand in a "time of war" cost will be trumped by the needs to keep operations running?


And launching more spacecraft will fix the need

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #13 on: 10/22/2011 09:21 PM »
Aside from the cost of launching such a scavenger to GEO I worry about all the debris created while tearing old sats apart to harvest their innards. Don't we have enough trouble with man-made trash in space already?

 Besides being cautious, parts could be retrieved.
It's not trash it's recycling. It's not a problem - it's an opportunity.

Steve

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #14 on: 10/22/2011 09:23 PM »

 Only if you don't change your ways of doing things. As you know, I have discussed using the aluminum as propellant

Not going to happen in near earth environment, totally nonviable.  the effects from aluminum in solid motors is still felt and there will be similar effects.
Jim we've already discussed this - the aluminum is exhausted as a gas and doesn't have anything to condense on.

It will combine into particles

 Prove it.

Offline Prober

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #15 on: 10/22/2011 09:28 PM »
Aside from the cost of launching such a scavenger to GEO I worry about all the debris created while tearing old sats apart to harvest their innards. Don't we have enough trouble with man-made trash in space already?

 Besides being cautious, parts could be retrieved.
It's not trash it's recycling. It's not a problem - it's an opportunity.

Steve

I agree 100%   Did you write up a paper on this?

Also see this as a means insurance companies will pay to fix an out of orbit device.
2017 - Everything Old is New Again.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ by Thomas Alva Edison

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #16 on: 10/22/2011 09:33 PM »
Thanks Issac.
I have been writing and speaking about this concept for over 15 years and been told I was crazy too many times to count.
I wish them luck. This could be the game changer.

Steve Mickler

Still crazy, because it won't be cost effective for decades.

The issue isn't the robotics.  The issue is the energy to and from GSO and the cost of launch.

on the other hand in a "time of war" cost will be trumped by the needs to keep operations running?


And launching more spacecraft will fix the need

I didn't think this was about more than using parts of existing sats to make new sats which could be useful for military reconnaissance assets in GEO.
 The costs Jim is referring to are those needed send up supplies to refuel the robots and the new parts that need to be brought up to make the new sat out of old parts I think. The robots themselves should have a multi-year lifetime and be able to make many new craft before overhaul. If asteroid mining is developed quickly, those propellants do not need to be launched from Earth.
 Building and launching a new military sat is expensive and unlikely to happen quickly even in a time of war.

Steve

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #17 on: 10/22/2011 09:37 PM »
Aside from the cost of launching such a scavenger to GEO I worry about all the debris created while tearing old sats apart to harvest their innards. Don't we have enough trouble with man-made trash in space already?

 Besides being cautious, parts could be retrieved.
It's not trash it's recycling. It's not a problem - it's an opportunity.

Steve

I agree 100%   Did you write up a paper on this?

Also see this as a means insurance companies will pay to fix an out of orbit device.


 Thanks - I haven't written a paper. McDonnel Detweiler & Assoc. who make the CanadaArm have a plan to do just that that was discussed on an earlier thread.

Steve

Offline Jim

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #18 on: 10/22/2011 10:01 PM »

1.If asteroid mining is developed quickly, those propellants do not need to be launched from Earth.
2. Building and launching a new military sat is expensive and unlikely to happen quickly even in a time of war.


1.  Another concept not happenings for decades

2.  Happened many times during Desert Storm.  At any rate, more feasible than kludging one from a scrap heap
« Last Edit: 10/22/2011 10:03 PM by Jim »

Offline Jim

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #19 on: 10/22/2011 10:05 PM »
Anyways the DARPA scheme is to reuse only antennas and not the rest of the spacecraft
« Last Edit: 10/22/2011 10:05 PM by Jim »

Offline strangequark

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #20 on: 10/23/2011 07:38 AM »
Prove it.

The burden of proof is on you. What evidence do you have to the contrary to support your claim? Alumina and aluminum particles in solid propellant exhaust is a well known phenomena, and it occurs before interaction of the plume with the atmosphere (in the chamber, for that matter; it increases radiative heat transfer). Why is there any reason to expect different behavior on orbit?

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #21 on: 10/23/2011 08:38 PM »
Prove it.

The burden of proof is on you. What evidence do you have to the contrary to support your claim? Alumina and aluminum particles in solid propellant exhaust is a well known phenomena, and it occurs before interaction of the plume with the atmosphere (in the chamber, for that matter; it increases radiative heat transfer). Why is there any reason to expect different behavior on orbit?
First - no evidence has been presented that aluminum released as a hot gas in orbit will condense. There is nothing for it to condense on and as it expands the partial pressure drops to extremely low level.
 The problem with solids is incomplete combustion of the aluminum mixed into the propellant.

Steve

Offline Hop_David

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #22 on: 10/23/2011 10:05 PM »
First - no evidence has been presented that aluminum released as a hot gas in orbit will condense.

Strangequark mentioned that particles form in the rocket chamber.

Is the interior of your rocket chamber going to be a cold vacuum?

Offline strangequark

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #23 on: 10/24/2011 08:58 PM »
First - no evidence has been presented that aluminum released as a hot gas in orbit will condense. There is nothing for it to condense on and as it expands the partial pressure drops to extremely low level.
 The problem with solids is incomplete combustion of the aluminum mixed into the propellant.

Steve

And using straight, solar-heated aluminum solves that issue? Seems to me that would be a lot like completely incomplete (;)) combustion, given you're not burning the aluminum at all. The aluminum will start condensing into a liquid at above 3100K. Just how hot are you planning to run this solar thermal system to get decent expansion before you hit this temperature point? Unless you have test data confirming your assertion, I would say you're on shaky ground. So, do you have the empirical results to back this up?
« Last Edit: 10/24/2011 09:16 PM by strangequark »

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #24 on: 10/25/2011 12:04 AM »
First - no evidence has been presented that aluminum released as a hot gas in orbit will condense. There is nothing for it to condense on and as it expands the partial pressure drops to extremely low level.
 The problem with solids is incomplete combustion of the aluminum mixed into the propellant.

Steve


And using straight, solar-heated aluminum solves that issue? Seems to me that would be a lot like completely incomplete (;)) combustion, given you're not burning the aluminum at all. The aluminum will start condensing into a liquid at above 3100K. Just how hot are you planning to run this solar thermal system to get decent expansion before you hit this temperature point? Unless you have test data confirming your assertion, I would say you're on shaky ground. So, do you have the empirical results to back this up?

 The theoretical limit of a parabolic(image forming) solar concentrator mirror is the roughly 10,000 deg. F surface temperature of the Sun and although the argument is way over my head, I believe non-imaging optics placed in that focus can exceed that. At any rate, over 4000K is doable, so the aluminum may be heated to a liquid in one chamber and then injected into an extremely hot chamber to vaporize it before exhausting it. Provided it is possible to exhaust only gas, this gas can cool way below the temp at which it can liquefy it without condensing provided there is nothing for it to condense on. The people on the recent-ish Paris to Rio flight that crashed when super cooled water vapor condensed on the pitot tubes had sad personal experience with this.

Steve

Offline strangequark

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #25 on: 10/25/2011 09:43 AM »
The theoretical limit of a parabolic(image forming) solar concentrator mirror is the roughly 10,000 deg. F surface temperature of the Sun and although the argument is way over my head, I believe non-imaging optics placed in that focus can exceed that. At any rate, over 4000K is doable, so the aluminum may be heated to a liquid in one chamber and then injected into an extremely hot chamber to vaporize it before exhausting it. Provided it is possible to exhaust only gas, this gas can cool way below the temp at which it can liquefy it without condensing provided there is nothing for it to condense on. The people on the recent-ish Paris to Rio flight that crashed when super cooled water vapor condensed on the pitot tubes had sad personal experience with this.

Steve

Over 4000K will melt any practical material (and plenty of impractical ones). That was my point. Furthermore, you seem to think that nucleation sites are critical for a phase change. They assist, and commonly listed melting points and freezing points assume them. However, you cannot cool something indefinitely without a phase change.

There's an absolute point where you have homogeneous nucleation, and resultant phase change. That is exactly what will occur with your solar aluminum rocket, even if you have pure aluminum gas (a neat trick in and of itself).

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #26 on: 10/25/2011 05:59 PM »
The theoretical limit of a parabolic(image forming) solar concentrator mirror is the roughly 10,000 deg. F surface temperature of the Sun and although the argument is way over my head, I believe non-imaging optics placed in that focus can exceed that. At any rate, over 4000K is doable, so the aluminum may be heated to a liquid in one chamber and then injected into an extremely hot chamber to vaporize it before exhausting it. Provided it is possible to exhaust only gas, this gas can cool way below the temp at which it can liquefy it without condensing provided there is nothing for it to condense on. The people on the recent-ish Paris to Rio flight that crashed when super cooled water vapor condensed on the pitot tubes had sad personal experience with this.

Steve

Over 4000K will melt any practical material (and plenty of impractical ones). That was my point. Furthermore, you seem to think that nucleation sites are critical for a phase change. They assist, and commonly listed melting points and freezing points assume them. However, you cannot cool something indefinitely without a phase change.

There's an absolute point where you have homogeneous nucleation, and resultant phase change. That is exactly what will occur with your solar aluminum rocket, even if you have pure aluminum gas (a neat trick in and of itself).

 I was assuming a windowed reaction chamber with the walls held above 3100K.
 Homogenous nucleation would not occur until the gas is so spread out that only the tiniest of particles could form and even that seems extremely unlikely.
Steve

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #27 on: 10/28/2011 08:39 PM »
Aside from the cost of launching such a scavenger to GEO I worry about all the debris created while tearing old sats apart to harvest their innards. Don't we have enough trouble with man-made trash in space already?

 Besides being cautious, parts could be retrieved.
It's not trash it's recycling. It's not a problem - it's an opportunity.

Steve

I agree 100%   Did you write up a paper on this?

Also see this as a means insurance companies will pay to fix an out of orbit device.


 Although I didn't write a paper; I did submit this response to a request for RFI:
Response to TDMP RFI re: ISRU by Mickler Design Inc.

It’s a Space Junkyard
Seeing Space Junk as a Resource

Overview The ESA in a report titled “The annual Classification of Geosynchronous Objects”, published by the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office, in Feb. 2010 provides the following details:
A total of 1,238 objects known objects are in the GEO region:
   •   391 are under some level of control (either in longitude, inclination, or   both)
   •   594 are in a drift orbit
   •   169 have been captured by one of the two libation points
   •   11 are uncontrolled with no recent orbital elements available (usually meaning they are lost)
   •   66 do not exist in the U.S. military’s public satellite catalog but can be associated to a specific launch
These numbers illustrate that there are almost twice as many dead and drifting objects in  GEO as there are operational payloads. While the report does not provide an estimate of the total mass of these objects, even a conservative estimate will be something in excess of 2 million pounds of dry mass.
   The energy required to assemble this material in one place in GEO is quite low and well within the capabilities of the SEP powered vehicle proposed for FTD-1. Once the material that is made available for salvage by the owners or insurers; it is quite likely that  roughly one ISS mass will be available for recycling at least. Given this resource of lithium-aluminum, old solar panels, etc.; that already has been placed in GEO at great expense; are there technologies that can be developed in the near term to make use of it and what use would they be? 
   Perhaps the first thing that might come to mind is to simply build a space station or Mars Excursion Vehicle, but that is certainly not what I have in mind. The aluminum alloy in particular, that makes up much of the material, has another potential use that is more likely to make money. That use is as propellant for a Solar Thermal or Solar Thermal/Electric Propulsion (ST/EP) powered OTV capable of moving payloads from LEO to GEO. Solar thermal propulsion uses concentrated sunlight to heat a propellant to a hot gaseous state and exhaust it to produce thrust. While having less thrust than chemical; solar thermal has more than double the efficiency of the best chemical rockets when using hydrogen, and can achieve temperatures so high ( over 4000 deg. F) that almost anything can be used as propellant. Using aluminum alloy produces more thrust than hydrogen, with the trade that efficiency drops below the best chemical. If you were bringing that propellant up from Earth; hydrogen would be preferred. If you already have aluminum alloy up there however; its quite a bargain.
   This is not to say that with stereolithography and telerobotic humanoid robots we would be unable to make anything profitable; it’s just that the market for orbit raising already exists. It would be highly desirable to use some of this propellant to support NEO regolith aquisition. in order that the OTV business be made sustainable over time. As leftover regolith becomes available from propellant production in GEO, production of habitats, vehicles or even solar thermal rocket OTV’s could profitably commence.
Impact/Advantages: The material making up the satellites and spent upper stages in GEO has been placed there at a cost equal to several times its’ weight in gold. The development of technologies enabling its’ use could allow exploitation of this fact. Propellant  made from space “junk” can replace propellant launched from the surface. This gives it high value’ increasing the likeliehood that such a system would be profitable.
   If one has the goal of “capturing signifigant public interest and awareness”; nothing could do that more than a plan that can make money. If the taxpayer can see NASA efficiently re-cycling and making a profit on space “junk”; opinion about NASA will undergo a paradigm shift. The public would be fascinated by the recycling operation much as they are currently with the video coming from the ROV’s  showing the gushing oil leak. If NEO mining follows; NASA can come to be seen as the high tech solution to our economic problems instead of an inspiring drain on a strapped budget. This may seem overstated, but provided mining of NEO regolith succeeds as an economic enterprise; the accumulation of leftover material from propellant production will make possibe not just spacecraft construction but perhaps even telerobotic manufacture of consumer goods. Progress in stereolithography and ocean ROV’s make this possibility less farfetched than it might first appear.
   If space ever captures the public imagination as a place to make money there will be no turning back. We will once again have a frontier to develop. Engineers tend to evaluate concepts based purely on the economics as they should, but the impact on the public imagination of the first return and marketing of platinum or gold from an asteroid, even if not cost effective economically, wiould be electric. The history of gold rushes bears this out.
The history of gold rushes also shows that their long term benefit lies in the economic development they bring and not so much the value of the gold itself.
Technological Readiness: The proposed FTD-1 mission could include a small humanoid type robot and tools to test both teleoperation in GEO and techniques for dismantling dead satellites. Alternately. it could actually rendezvous with a NEO and return a sample. If that sample was fairly large and included some platinum; public attention would be galvanized.
   If a solar thermal or solar thermal/electric powered OTV is flown to a dead sat in GEO with a humanoid telerobot, fiber optic “torches” may be used to dismantle and cut up a dead satellite. The pieces could then be used in a specially designed solar furnace which would vaporize the metal and exhaust it to produce thrust. This would be the first time that ISRU derived propellant was actually used to produce thrust on orbit..
Cost:comparable to the proposed FTD-1 mission
Risk: Mistakes could lead to loss of pieces of the target dead or pre positioned test satellite drifting away and adding to the space junk in GEO.
Potential Partnerships: DARPA has been looking into space junk mitigation lately and the potential profit may attract private mining companies.
Platform: medium class launch vehicle

I have no idea if this had any influence on anyone but I tried.

Steve

Offline synchrotron

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #28 on: 10/31/2011 01:30 PM »
You make bald assertions that "The energy required to assemble this material in one place in GEO is quite low [...]".  What is the energy required?  Altitude is easy in GEO ... inclination and true anomaly are the hard part.  Do the math and show the math if you want to be taken seriously.
"Technological Readiness: The proposed FTD-1 mission could include a small humanoid type robot and tools to test both teleoperation in GEO and techniques for dismantling dead satellites. Alternately. it could actually rendezvous with a NEO and return a sample. If that sample was fairly large and included some platinum; public attention would be galvanized."  How does your statement address readiness?  Why is a humanoid robot included ... what requirement is it addressing?   Why are you talking about two very different missions in the same breath?  Start with the most simple complete and coherent story and don't add anything unless you've got a good reason to dilute your message.



Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #29 on: 11/01/2011 09:23 PM »
You make bald assertions that "The energy required to assemble this material in one place in GEO is quite low [...]".  What is the energy required?  Altitude is easy in GEO ... inclination and true anomaly are the hard part.  Do the math and show the math if you want to be taken seriously.
"Technological Readiness: The proposed FTD-1 mission could include a small humanoid type robot and tools to test both teleoperation in GEO and techniques for dismantling dead satellites. Alternately. it could actually rendezvous with a NEO and return a sample. If that sample was fairly large and included some platinum; public attention would be galvanized."  How does your statement address readiness?  Why is a humanoid robot included ... what requirement is it addressing?   Why are you talking about two very different missions in the same breath?  Start with the most simple complete and coherent story and don't add anything unless you've got a good reason to dilute your message.




Harsh. The assertion that the material can be assembled for little delta V comes from the fact that the sats in GEO are basically in the same orbit. The RFI response was limited to the exact number of characters I used or thereabouts and several topics to address so I didn't think math to prove the obvious was important.
 The tech required to harvest sats in GEO and mine NEO's is very similar and if the equipment chosen has great flexibility (as does a humanoid robot) a given system can do both tasks with minor changes and different "hand" tools.
 Did you note that I suggested DARPA involvement in this response that I sent in last year and that there is now a DARPA program to do at least part of what I advocated? Whether what I said had influence or not, I feel pretty good about the narrative I put forth.

Steve

Offline Robert Thompson

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #30 on: 11/03/2011 02:58 AM »
Looking for reasoned seasoned disinterested opinions on whether or not terrestrial bandwidth capabilities will overtake a critical volume of present satellite communications. I imagine, but it is only a conjecture, that as terrestrial networks are back-filled and run out into one nowhere after another, that there will still be some new application that cannot at that time be offered ubiquitously by cable, and therefore is offered by satellite. In other words, if terrestrial communications keep increasing in bandwidth, for satellites to survive will require markets in types of media we've only considered sci-fi till now. Better than 3D. Smellovision? How far am I off? I would prefer to be assured that this low hanging fruit, where the hammer can fall first in reducing launch costs, is not going to be snatched by some feral critter called fiber optics.

Offline synchrotron

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #31 on: 11/03/2011 07:33 PM »
Looking for reasoned seasoned disinterested opinions on whether or not terrestrial bandwidth capabilities will overtake a critical volume of present satellite communications. I imagine, but it is only a conjecture, that as terrestrial networks are back-filled and run out into one nowhere after another, that there will still be some new application that cannot at that time be offered ubiquitously by cable, and therefore is offered by satellite. In other words, if terrestrial communications keep increasing in bandwidth, for satellites to survive will require markets in types of media we've only considered sci-fi till now. Better than 3D. Smellovision? How far am I off? I would prefer to be assured that this low hanging fruit, where the hammer can fall first in reducing launch costs, is not going to be snatched by some feral critter called fiber optics.

Satellite communications will become a niche market servicing other space assets, sigint, militaries, and some specific mobile applications. Capital expenditures, maintainability, upgradeability, bandwidth, and performance all favor terrestrial communications. For a surprisingly low fee it's getting possible to light up a dedicated fiber line just about anywhere with latencies below 100 ms. I.e., less than half the time-of-flight to a GEO asset. Further, 100-kilometer wireless internet will even put pressure on cellular networks much less sat networks.
There's a spot market right now for satcomm, and servicing could make that more affordable to provide, but an order of magnitude reduction will be needed to compete with ground-based comms in the foreseeable future. Just my opinion though.

Offline Hop_David

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #32 on: 11/03/2011 08:32 PM »
Looking for reasoned seasoned disinterested opinions on whether or not terrestrial bandwidth capabilities will overtake a critical volume of present satellite communications. I imagine, but it is only a conjecture, that as terrestrial networks are back-filled and run out into one nowhere after another, that there will still be some new application that cannot at that time be offered ubiquitously by cable, and therefore is offered by satellite. In other words, if terrestrial communications keep increasing in bandwidth, for satellites to survive will require markets in types of media we've only considered sci-fi till now. Better than 3D. Smellovision? How far am I off? I would prefer to be assured that this low hanging fruit, where the hammer can fall first in reducing launch costs, is not going to be snatched by some feral critter called fiber optics.

The state of art for telepresence is advancing all the time. Decades ago, low fidelity voice telephones were the norm. Now we have Skype. The norm will move closer and closer to fully immersive telepresence.

Working at a remote workplace will become more common, I believe. At first it will be very rare. Flying drones to gather reconnaissance in enemy territory. Using a telerobot to disarm a bomb. Working on sub-ocean oil wells.

Then as price falls and ability climbs, the telerobots will become more common. Rather than being limited to ultra dangerous environments, you'll see them in moderately dangerous places like underground mines. And then you'll see them everywhere.

Increasing telepresence and teleoperation will keep demand for bandwidth growing for many decades, I believe.

But I'm not certain that could drive a growing comsat market. If fiber optics can meet the growing appetite for bandwidth cheaper, the comsat folks will be SOL.
« Last Edit: 11/03/2011 08:45 PM by Hop_David »

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #33 on: 11/05/2011 07:53 PM »
 For those who feel that nuclear power has a role to play but are frustrated by costs and politics; there are 44 Russian nuclear reactors in orbit aren't there? Perhaps the Russians would be willing to sell in the event that they could be reanimated or recycled. They aren't in GEO but rather in high orbits so there would need to be some energy expended, but they could be brought to GEO to be worked on. Might make a decent thriller to have the bad guys robotically seize one of these sats for nuclear blackmail - de-orbit over a city and you've got one heck of a dirty bomb possibly.
 An avatar based industrial facility in GEO has potentially unlimited material from asteroids, the Moon and perhaps the moons of Mars, unlimited and nearly constant solar energy and no political or regulatory barriers to expansion. It could even produce food and oil. Manna I guess.
 If a country such as the U.S. could get this going, it could expand rapidly. For instance if 10KW thermal/kg is a reasonable number for a solar concentrator and 500kg of aluminum could be extracted from a given asteroid per cubic meter, then 5000KW thermal/m^2 worth of asteroid could be produced. A 2 km dia asteroid like this could supply roughly 4 cubic km or 4 billion m^3 for 20 billion MW or 20,000 TW thermal and there's a lot more than that out there.
 You start small on a shoestring and expand quickly if it can produce goods more cheaply than ground based industry to the point that we can be a filthy rich space faring civilization.

Just a thought.
Steve 

Offline Robert Thompson

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #34 on: 11/06/2011 03:15 AM »
SOL.

http://www.skyvision.net/press/inthemedia/future-satellite-african-communications-magazine

That article leads me to believe that topography and population differences will allow the satellite market to migrate over time from areas where fibre optics infrastructure has solidified to areas where it cannot yet do so. The profitability may decrease due to the net markets available, but it probably won't disappear. Not until the globe is completely covered by fibre. During this time satellites will also keep improving, which provides a margin of value superior to fibre optics for a small, more affluent and mobile segment in industrialized nations.

Offline Jim

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #35 on: 11/06/2011 12:47 PM »
For those who feel that nuclear power has a role to play but are frustrated by costs and politics; there are 44 Russian nuclear reactors in orbit aren't there? Perhaps the Russians would be willing to sell in the event that they could be reanimated or recycled. They aren't in GEO but rather in high orbits so there would need to be some energy expended, but they could be brought to GEO to be worked on. Might make a decent thriller to have the bad guys robotically seize one of these sats for nuclear blackmail - de-orbit over a city and you've got one heck of a dirty bomb possibly.
 An avatar based industrial facility in GEO has potentially unlimited material

More fanasty

Not some, but a lot of energy.  Too much to make worthwhile, unless there a new unknown propulsion system developed

Offline Solman

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #36 on: 11/06/2011 09:56 PM »
For those who feel that nuclear power has a role to play but are frustrated by costs and politics; there are 44 Russian nuclear reactors in orbit aren't there? Perhaps the Russians would be willing to sell in the event that they could be reanimated or recycled. They aren't in GEO but rather in high orbits so there would need to be some energy expended, but they could be brought to GEO to be worked on. Might make a decent thriller to have the bad guys robotically seize one of these sats for nuclear blackmail - de-orbit over a city and you've got one heck of a dirty bomb possibly.
 An avatar based industrial facility in GEO has potentially unlimited material

More fanasty

Not some, but a lot of energy.  Too much to make worthwhile, unless there a new unknown propulsion system developed

 You mean like a solar thermal rocket that can use almost anything as propellant?

Offline Jim

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #37 on: 11/06/2011 10:05 PM »
For those who feel that nuclear power has a role to play but are frustrated by costs and politics; there are 44 Russian nuclear reactors in orbit aren't there? Perhaps the Russians would be willing to sell in the event that they could be reanimated or recycled. They aren't in GEO but rather in high orbits so there would need to be some energy expended, but they could be brought to GEO to be worked on. Might make a decent thriller to have the bad guys robotically seize one of these sats for nuclear blackmail - de-orbit over a city and you've got one heck of a dirty bomb possibly.
 An avatar based industrial facility in GEO has potentially unlimited material

More fanasty

Not some, but a lot of energy.  Too much to make worthwhile, unless there a new unknown propulsion system developed

 You mean like a solar thermal rocket that can use almost anything as propellant?

That isn't unknown nor is it viable.  Fanasty

Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #38 on: 11/06/2011 11:03 PM »
Long duration exposure facility
Satellites have been in orbit for a long time. Getting parts off them to study the effects of them in space could be good.

Satellites could be designed to be serviced.

Being able to get rid of old Sats to make room for new ones would be good.

Space tug, fuel depot, and repair space station would make the DARPA
plan work.

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: Harvesting/Reanimating Satellites
« Reply #39 on: 11/07/2011 02:59 AM »

 You mean like a solar thermal rocket that can use almost anything as propellant?

IMHO The solar thermal rockets will obtain their propellant from a more conventional mine.  The  pilots will want to use a pure fuel.  Satellites are a complex mixture of aluminium, copper and silicon which makes the Isp and thrust unpredictable.

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