Questions tagged [debris]

Questions about debris in space, often in Earth orbit. Usually referring to nonoperational man-made satellites or parts of satellites.

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48
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4answers
9k views

Shouldn't space junk fall back to Earth on its own? How long will take for a ~1 cm piece of junk in LEO to fall back to Earth on its own for example?

I'm a noob in this subject and know little about space exploration, but I wonder about this every time I read the news: Wouldn't drag make all space junk fall back to Earth after some time? I'm ...
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1answer
118 views

How do kick motors distance themselves from their payload after their burn, if at all?

I saw Space News' An object is now orbiting alongside China’s Shijian-21 debris mitigation satellite recently about a "new object" orbiting near a relatively newly launched satellite. The ...
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1answer
129 views

Is pre-deorbit explosive disassembly of the ISS utilising propellant a useful way to reduce impact debris?

The ISS could be disassembled post retro burn to provide smaller pieces for burn-up. If the hull space were filled with a stoichiometric mix of propellant from the deorbiting vessel post-burn, it ...
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0answers
139 views

Deorbit of ISS is a unique event. Are there plans for scientific observation?

The ISS deorbit will be unique. Not only because of its mass, but because the time, location and observing conditions can be accurately chosen. Instruments could be placed for detailed observation. ...
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When the ISS is de-orbited, what is the likely mass of the largest impact fragment?

Are there plans to modify the ISS prior to de-orbit to reduce fragment size or number.? For instance a "rapid planed disassembly" post burn ?
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5answers
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Are pictures of Earth' space junk realistic?

Every time I look at a picture that shows the amount of space junk I'm baffled. I can't for the life of me think how anything else being launch into orbit actually makes it without hitting anything ...
6
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2answers
222 views

When was an operational satellite accidentally damaged by another man-made object in space?

In connection with the question on Starlink constellation potential contribution to a run-away phenomenon, also known as “Kessler syndrome”, it would be of interest to know how well actual collision ...
2
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1answer
62 views

International SSA/STM 3-Layer Model

I'm working on a paper outlining an International SSA/STM1 approach for Civil SSA/STM and have read and referenced many publications. I believe it was an IDA documents such as https://www.ida.org/-/...
4
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1answer
151 views

How much could a full-blown Starlink constellation contribute to a future Kessler scenario? What would be the worst-case scenario?

Discussions in comments below this answer to What is the biggest satellite constellation in space right now? have touched on risk vs reward and the Kessler Syndrome in the context of full-blown ...
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4answers
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Recycling space debris for manufacturing in space

There are a few companies interested in manufacturing (mostly additive) in space. Let's say that by some miracle some company comes up with a space station that is capable of sending out service ...
3
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1answer
108 views

What happened to the launch debris that the US dropped on Cuba? Was it noticed or reported?

This answer to How does one dogleg from Florida to a sun-synchronous orbit? this answer to History of multiple-payload launches? both describe a launch of GRAB1 that secretly contained a second ...
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Are artificial satellites impacted primarily by natural or artificial particles?

Are functional artificial satellites/space stations/spacecraft/probes impacted primarily by natural or artificial particles/debris? Lets go by something comparable like impact frequency per mass/...
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1answer
2k views

Why are we not seeing probability curves for space junk collision prediction?

Since many specific space junk collision risks have been assessed, why haven't we combined the data and graphed it? The trendlines could be very instructive. Like mapping climate change, the curve ...
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1answer
168 views

Testing our knowledge of Space Law. Which state would be liable if a Oneweb satellite collides with another satellite?

On June 27th, Oneweb launched another batch of 36 LEO satellites from Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia. The satellites separated from Soyuz at the altitude of ~400 km. Using their electric propulsion ...
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0answers
46 views

Who is the State of Registry for ALL the SpaceBEE satellites?

SpaceBEEs are tiny satellites engineered and exploited by the company Swarm Technologies. In 2018, it made headlines by sending 4 experimental satellites on a ride-share of the Indian rocket PSLV, ...
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Which Launching State HASN'T breached its obligations under the 1976 Registration Convention?

(the wording of my question above is voluntarily provocative, but the actual question below may be even more) The context: The 1976 Registration Convention is part of a set of Treaties that ...
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1answer
132 views

Does Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty apply to a Launching State?

The following question was asked and answered 3 years ago: might ISRO’s launch of Swarm’s satellites in 2018 be at least a technical violation of the Outer Space Treaty? Recall that the launch in ...
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0answers
95 views

Measuring and analyzing the tumble of space debris

How well or accurately can we measure the tumble of space debris? I know that we can make ground-based measurements based on light curve data acquired by telescopes. Can tumble be measured from radar ...
4
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4answers
209 views

Do space industry companies want their defunct satellites back?

Space junk debate aside, many large satellite companies (and governments too) are responsible for a large number of both operational and defunct sats that are still in orbit. When other companies or ...
2
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0answers
31 views

Where can i find ELSETS with Co-Variances?

For Special Permutations (I'm a novice), an ELSET with covariance is more accurate than without covariance. A TLE doesn't have room for any covariance. However, I can't seem to find a catalog that ...
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3answers
357 views

Would it be possible to alter the orbit of one satellite, with the exhaust plume of a rocket sufficient to deorbit it?

SpaceX plan to launch Starships towards Mars; many of them. This will involve burning hundreds to thousands of tonnes of propellant in low(ish) orbit, since each may require several refueling steps. ...
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0answers
29 views

Source of Satellite and Debris Ephemerides for Analysis

I'm working on some code that will fuse ephemeris data, the raw telescope and radar data used for locating and tracking active satellites and space debris. Most of this data is owned by the Air Force ...
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2answers
313 views

Who owns space junk?

Who owns space junk? There are several old satellites and rocket (second stage?) that get pushed to an orbit where they won't bother anything. Are these technically still owned by anyone (company or ...
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73 views

Does China pay for damages caused by deorbiting space junk?

When China launches a big rocket, they apparently don't control the deorbit and there are large enough pieces to strike the surface and even cause damage to buildings, as happened in the Ivory Coast ...
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105 views

Was the recent uncontrolled Chinese rocket de-orbit exceptional?

The recent (April 2021) Chinese CZ-5B rocket launch gained widespread media attention because the large launcher was designed to de-orbit in an uncontrolled fashion, and ultimately landed in the ...
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Blue Origin's Plan to Repurpose Spent Upper Stages as Commercial Habitats: What Are the Challenges?

Blue Origin has proposed repurposing spent upper stages as commercial habitats. I imagine this means housing people inside those stages---and therefore inside the tanks that once housed dangerous ...
4
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2answers
311 views

Is it practical to 'shoot down' a rocket stage?

Space Policy Online has an article from yesterday titled 'AUSTIN: NO PLANS TO SHOOT DOWN ERRANT CHINESE ROCKET STAGE'. Which made me wonder - is that even plausible? If you shoot it in space, first ...
5
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2answers
147 views

How much debris will hit the ground from the Long March 5B compared to the debris from a GTO upper stage?

It was commented that there are currently 22 SpaceX upper stages in orbit that will eventually reenter in an uncontrolled fashion. PcMan pointed that out when I asked Why the Long March 5B wasn't ...
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87 views

How common is the ejection of small objects during final stage separation?

Source: Crew-2 launch; YouTube (timestamp link) That object seen moving right to left is the reason I ask. By playing the video frame-by-frame, it seems like it's a small object close to the camera ...
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1answer
258 views

How much is known about those liquid metal droplets orbiting the Earth? (e.g. sizes, composition, orbits...) Are any actually tracked?

The question Orbit Guardians - bs, right? mentions a company proposing a smallsat that will capture then give a roughly 200 m/s retrograde "kick" to liquid metal NaK alloy droplets in LEO ...
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3answers
324 views

Orbit Guardians - bs, right?

California-based Orbit Guardians is one of a small number of startups trying to tackle orbital debris. It's difficult to tell exactly what their plan is, but based on this animation, they seem to ...
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0answers
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How problematic is debris for Starship storage/depots?

So with the recent announcement that Starship has been selected as NASA's HLS (which is pretty radical), it's raised a question in me that been around for a while. For HLS; a Starship storage(depot) ...
5
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1answer
215 views

ISS battery "de-orbit" burnup?

In reading these two questions: How many kilograms of nickel particles will be dispersed in Earth's atmosphere by dumping old ISS batteries overboard? and Why does it take so long for ISS garbage ...
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3answers
334 views

Why does it take so long for ISS garbage to fall out of orbit?

The ISS recently jettison some garbage and expects it to take 2-4 years to de-orbit and burn up. From Gizmodo's ISS Ditches 2.9-Ton Pallet of Batteries, Creating Its Most Massive Piece of Space Trash: ...
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0answers
99 views

What happens to the debris of a rocket that exploded or crashed? Is there a dedicated effort to cleaning the debris?

Assuming that everything is not vaporized, one would think that all waste is collected and incinerated. Does SpaceX, NASA, etc have a dedicated team/effort to cleaning up this debris?
4
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1answer
109 views

Dimension and mass of space debris

I am doing a project on space debris management. I wanted to know the size and shape of common space debris (like rocket upper rocket stages). Is there a website which has data on debris? I know ...
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0answers
36 views

Satellites | Debris & EMR

Over time we are launching plethora of communication satellites into space, with old ones reaching their lifespan and new ones replacing them. My Question is two folds: Are we simply creating more ...
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Does Chang'e 5 ascent module's crash has any other benefits for the space agency other than reducing the space junk?

I really appreciate what the Chinese space agency did with the ascent module, crashed it onto the lunar surface so that they won't contribute to the space debris. I was wondering if there is an ...
7
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1answer
394 views

What events caused this debris in highly elliptical orbits

This question has been developed from Why are objects in this highly elliptical orbit present in Vimpel but not USSpacecom which I realisd was two questions in one. Here is the same graphic from ...
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1answer
176 views

Why are objects in this highly elliptical orbit present in Vimpel but not USSpacecom

This is a screenshot from AstriaGraph. It mixes data sources for objects in orbit from Spacetrack/USSpacecom and JSC Vimpel. EDIT: I've created a separate question to split out the original two ...
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1answer
115 views

Out of 47,108 lines in the Satcat why are there exactly two lines with launch of the year of 000?

This looks like this answer because that's where I found this. Celestrak offers a copy of a Satcat from which a tabulation of space objects can be gleaned: https://celestrak.com/satcat/search.php ...
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0answers
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What radar-trackable steel ball was thrown from the ISS before October 2015? [duplicate]

The question What kinds of things have been tossed out of the ISS? contains a now-rotted link to a YouTube video of a steel ball being thrown from the ISS for radar tracking tests. I'd sourced it from ...
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0answers
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General rule for predicting Kessler syndrome

Let's say that we have a gradient for density of orbiting bodies by altitude. And we also have their relative size dispersion. Is there any general rule (or preferably a neat formula) for predicting ...
5
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1answer
248 views

What was the relative velocity of Kosmos-2004 and the ChangZheng rocket stage at their closest aproach?

Yesterday (15th October 2020), Kosmos-2004 and a ChangZheng rocket stage were predicted to pass within 25 metres of each other and the media was quick to report the possibility of a collision. They ...
3
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1answer
78 views

TLE filtering techniques to remove the mean motion/eccentricity/inclination outliers

I am working on a TLE filtering code to prepare the TLE series for orbit propagation. I am using a sliding window approach with meadian+ n*mad or IQR to detect the outliers in those orbital elements ...
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1answer
3k views

What would the Venus landers look like today?

Between 1966 and 1985, several probes, mostly of Soviet design, successfully landed on Venus. Many of them continued operating long enough to send back audio, images, and various measurements, though ...
2
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1answer
310 views

TLE on path to be deprecated - what is 9 digit?

The TLE format will soon run out of numbers. The US Space Force is implementing an Alpha 5 scheme where the first byte of the NORAD_ID will be a letter giving nearly 400,000 numbers. After that a 9-...
4
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1answer
203 views

How much do on-demand, artificial meteor showers cost these days?

On-demand, artificial meteor showers are discussed in Artificial Shooting Stars - how could this possibly work (economically/technologically)? Why would a box full of 1cm balls released into LEO be ...
5
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1answer
84 views

Does a published account of the economics of Russian debris shipbreaking exist?

Most Soviet and Russian rockets are/were launched from an inland site, and spent booster stages crash on the ground in sparsely populated (and frequently impoverished) rural areas. Since the fall of ...
2
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1answer
67 views

How is 'space junk' monitored pre-launches and when picking satellite orbits?

There is a bunch of junk orbiting right outside the atmosphere of the Earth, an issue that gets addressed more and more as space travel develops. How do they monitor the movement of these to avoid so ...

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