Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Satellite Stuff

Our biosphere extends out into low earth orbit, and we've managed to trash it out there, too. However, there seems to be a solution on the horizon. According to a BBC article, it is thought more than 5,500 tonnes of junk now clutters the region of space just a few hundred km above our heads. Last year, two satellites even collided, showering their orbit with tiny fragments that now pose additional risk to operational spacecraft. International agencies have agreed that retired hardware - old satellites or spent rocket stages - should be removed from space within 25 years of the end of service.

The proposed solution is to use a small solar sail attached to space debris and old satellites and drag them down into the atmosphere, where they burn up on the fall back to earth. Moving the debris and pollution down into our biosphere.

What about using a salvage yard in low earth orbit? It could provide a low-earth orbit platform for recycling and materials supply for providing industry outside of the atmospheric envelope, as well as conserving the metals used in the satellite construction which are already very highly processed. This is the essence of sustainability. We don't burn our trash in the back yard any more, why keep doing it out in the outer biosphere? Here's the online presentation of my low earth orbit base concept which could be used to develop industry and establish a foothold outside of earth's deep gravity well for interplanetary robotic launches and lunar mining processes.