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Friday, January 29, 2021

On the Satellite Crowd

 A discussion of the crowding of satellites, mentioned here a number of times before.   The crowd needs to be much better managed. 

Thousands More Satellites Will Soon Orbit Earth—We Need Better Rules to Prevent Space Crashes By Lauren Napier  in The Singularity Hub

In recent years, satellites have become smaller, cheaper, and easier to make with commercial off-the-shelf parts. Some even weigh as little as one gram. This means more people can afford to send them into orbit. Now, satellite operators have started launching mega-constellations—groups of hundreds or even thousands of small satellites working together—into orbit around Earth.

Instead of one large satellite, groups of small satellites can provide coverage of the entire planet at once. Civil, military, and private operators are increasingly using constellations to create global and continuous coverage of the Earth. Constellations can provide a variety of functions, including climate monitoring, disaster management, or digital connectivity, like satellite broadband.

But to provide coverage of the entire planet with small satellites requires a lot of them. On top of this, they have to orbit close to Earth’s surface to reduce interruption of coverage and communication delays. This means they take up an already busy area of space called low Earth orbit, the space 100 to 2,000km above the Earth’s surface.

There are many issues associated with introducing this many satellites into orbit, from the dangers of space junk to obstructing our view of the night sky. But the shift toward mega-constellations is also a challenge for global space governance. ... ' 

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