A worm on our heads: Earth is threatened by constellations of satellites – Free Press

Remember this:

Bullshit flew over the earth
unknown metal.
Too many nowadays
Unidentified bullshit!

You would laugh here, but in the light of recent events, you somehow do not feel it: in the sky of Puerto Rico, enthusiastic locals observed a meteor shower of stunning beauty. The black sky was streaked with fireballs, leaving glowing long traces behind. It’s just to the earth, burning in the atmosphere, did not fly guests from outer space, but dozens of satellites Ilona mask.

We’re talking about Starlink devices, the ones that SpaceX has already “buried” safely. Remember that almost immediately after launch, Maskov’s satellites collapsed into a powerful geomagnetic storm and collapsed.

No one is immune to this. But in a particular case, we are talking about a massive collapse of spacecraft. After all, Elon Musk’s company announced 40 damaged satellites that became space debris. But there is still no exact information about exactly how many of them began to fall on our planet and whether their fragments reached the surface of the earth.

Although SpaceX assures that the fragments of the satellites should have completely burned up in the atmosphere, we understand that there is a big difference between calculations and reality. In addition, there were precedents. Just a few years ago, residents of the US states of Washington and Oregon observed, with the same enthusiasm as Puerto Ricans, a phenomenon very similar to a meteor shower. Only the debris from the second stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rushed to Earth. The rocket successfully launched a batch of Starlink satellites into orbit, but it was not possible to get the second step out of orbit on command from Earth: it fluttered around the Earth for more than three weeks and returned independently to the atmosphere over Seattle. And in this metropolis live, for one minute, 750,000 people. In short, not all debris burned down: several large parts of the rocket collapsed outside the city limits and caused no damage. At that time it was resolved, but it is not a fact that it will always be so happy. In addition, there are more and more artificial space objects. There are about 2,000 satellites launched by Elon Musk in orbit near Earth alone. But Russia, China, India are also participating in the space race. And they are launching more and more new mechanisms into space, which eventually break down, go out of orbit and fall on our heads.

Satellites are just tools, he explains expert Vasily Petrov.

– The concept of super-large satellite constellations is one of the working concepts for building, in this case, space communication. There is no unequivocal opinion in the industry on the appropriateness of using constellations of satellites. On the one hand, experts look at this case with caution. The numbers are really scary. After all, the probability of encountering such a satellite increases. There are already tens of thousands of passive space debris objects of medium and large dimensions, such as rocket pieces and satellites. And small, with a tennis ball and smaller – up to hundreds of thousands. We can not even observe the entire volume of space debris!

Pictured: Falcon 9 launches 60 Starlink satellites into orbit (Photo: SpaceX / via Globallookpress.com)

On the other hand, the mass failure of satellites was due to an unfortunate set of circumstances. Musk was very unlucky. The start time coincided with a geomagnetic storm. It was not very serious, but it led to a significant warming of the atmosphere, which increased its density precisely at the heights where the Starlink spacecraft’s reference trajectory was. And the management team simply did not have time to pick them up. These satellites posed no threat to humans, to the planet. This is how we can only talk about the financial losses of a certain commercial company.

“SP”: – And what about outer space, it will gradually turn into a dump?

– I can not say unequivocally whether it is good or bad that large constellations of satellites are used. It should rather be taken for granted. When it comes to any objective trend in the evolution of the cosmos. Some of the functions will be performed by widely specialized reliable expensive devices, which will be few. And some – satellite constellations. We are not going anywhere from this. With regard to the problem of space debris, authorities and regulators in various countries have been seriously addressing this for several years now. It’s just that this problem is solved in a strange way. It’s like a patient comes to the doctor with pain in his hand, he gets a powder prescribed. But because it has a side effect – upset stomach – a cure for diarrhea is mixed into the powder. But this remedy in turn causes rashes, and a rash component is also added to it. This is more or less how the space economy will most likely develop.

Photo: Elon Musk's 60 SpaceX Starlink communications satellites orbit the Earth, April 2020

In the photo: Elon Musk’s 60 SpaceX Starlink communications satellites orbit the Earth, April 2020 (Photo: Yuri Smityuk / TASS)

However, the expert believes that since there is a threat from space debris, it will be addressed. Earth-based space purifiers will be created, which will begin to clear the orbit of debris, and regulatory and control measures will be strengthened so as not to contaminate the orbit. In a few years, there will probably be a tendency for the collapse of satellite constellations and the development of universal spacecraft. It all depends on the space economy – which tools are more profitable to solve the tasks. And what should we do now? Walk around in helmets and expect some artificial debris to fall on your head at any time?

“Our air defense systems can prevent such a threat,” he reassures military expert Alexei Leonkov.

– We have radar stations that control outer space and track space objects, even artificial ones. We can even recognize if they are civilian or military. The systems make it possible to control space debris and take into account objects that, due to their size, can pose a potential danger. They are under constant surveillance. We can quite predict which object and when can go out of orbit and fall. And it will be destroyed in time. The only thing is that our complexes can not yet fight natural space objects: meteorites and fireballs. Their paths are too unpredictable.

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