Author Topic: SpaceX commsat constellation and end of sat life  (Read 932 times)

Offline MP99

SpaceX seems to be aiming for their satellite constellation to undergo continual upgrading, with old sats becoming obsolete and removed from active duty.

The obvious thing to do with old sats is to deorbit them.

However, would it be practical to move them to a safe parking orbit while also bringing them together so that they fly in formation? This would make for a single (extended) swarm to be avoided by other spacecraft, rather than hundreds of individual craft in crossing orbits.

The formation might be controlled by tugs to coral any sats which fail and stray away.

I'd imagine the formation could look pretty cool from the ground, too.

This is all predicated on there being some use going forward for hundreds of tons of aerospace grade materials in orbit - something which I personally think is quite a way off from being used, so this would be a bet on a long term payoff.

Thoughts?

Cheers, Martin

Offline MikeAtkinson

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Re: SpaceX commsat constellation and end of sat life
« Reply #1 on: 07/17/2016 07:02 AM »
Explosion in any sat in the swam (e.g. by hitting a small untracked object) would probably lead to fratricide (but at low velocity collisions), and a very large cloud of debris.

Much better just to deorbit.

Offline Herb Schaltegger

Re: SpaceX commsat constellation and end of sat life
« Reply #2 on: 07/17/2016 01:35 PM »
You can't orbit in "formation" really anyway without continuos active attitude and velocity control. Just de-orbit them at EOL and be done.
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Offline dror

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Re: SpaceX commsat constellation and end of sat life
« Reply #3 on: 07/17/2016 01:55 PM »
If you had a  smart 'garbage can' sattelite a few tens of kms above or below each orbital plane, you could arrange a docking with the old sattelites with a minimal burn.
When the garbage can is full, send it to dock with the commercial space station for recycling
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Offline Req

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Re: SpaceX commsat constellation and end of sat life
« Reply #4 on: 07/17/2016 03:54 PM »
Explosion in any sat in the swam (e.g. by hitting a small untracked object) would probably lead to fratricide (but at low velocity collisions), and a very large cloud of debris.

Much better just to deorbit.

And there absolutely will be strikes from small debris(paint flecks and whatnot).  These are all over the ISS, for example.  The net result will be eventual total fratricide, and worse, the Earth's bulged shape could cause the field to distribute itself all the way around the planet.
« Last Edit: 07/17/2016 03:56 PM by Req »

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