This is a casual collection of articles and reports of interest found on the internet. New items appear at the bottom of the page as and when I find them.
This is not meant to be a balanced nor an objective report (because I think it’s utter madness!) Please research your own articles if you’re looking for balanced arguments regarding the need for huge mega-satellite constellations, then research the consequences of giving carte-blanche permission to the likes of SpaceX, Amazon and OneWeb to allow them to literally fill the sky with tens of thousands of satellites which will severely interfere with visual and radio observations of the universe in both day-time and night-time, also hastening the day that the Kessler Syndrome will happen (because it will!)
What is the Kessler Syndrome?
The Kessler syndrome (also called the Kessler effect,collisional cascading, or ablation cascade), proposed by the NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978, is a scenario in which the density of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade in which each collision generates space debris that increases the likelihood of further collisions. One implication is that the distribution of debris in orbit could render space activities and the use of satellites in specific orbital ranges difficult for many generations. More: Wikipedia
Below is a collection of archived articles which describe the problem and propose various solutions. The problem faced now (in 2019) is that the satellite population is set to grow significantly within the next few years, along with the risk that objects (active and failed satellites, disused rocket bodies and debris) will have collisions increasingly exponentially.
Archived report from 1990:
Orbiting Debris: A Space Environmental Problem
October 1990 OTA-BP-ISC-72 NTIS order #PB91-114272
- From the Foreword:
Man-made debris, now circulating in a multitude of orbits about Earth as the result of the exploration and use of the space environment, poses a growing hazard to future space operations. The 6,000 or so debris objects large enough to be cataloged by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network are only a small percentage of the total debris capable of damaging spacecraft. Unless nations reduce the amount of orbital debris they produce, future space activities could suffer loss of capability, destruction of spacecraft, and perhaps even loss of life as a result of collisions between spacecraft and debris.
FCC Approves SpaceX Starlink Satellite Plan [link]
Companies Unite to Reject SpaceX Satellite Plans [link]
Web page links:
Live tracking of the Starlink satellites (page appears broken and not updated as of Dec 2019) https://satellitemap.space/
Wikipedia page following the Starlink launch campaign https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlink_(satellite_constellation)
SpaceX is launching Starlink satellites in batches of 60 satellites approximately once per month.
.@SpaceXStarlink seem to think that astronomy is just “little kids looking through their telescopes”, seemingly forgetting the vital work done by the amateur and professional communities who are probing, amongst other things, the origins of the universe.
“The Promise and Challenges of Starlink”. A Space Review article with numerous ‘coulds’ and ‘mays’ suggesting that astronomers should embrace Starlink with its supposed benefits to astronomy. Personally I don’t buy it…
1) Astronomers slam high-speed global internet plans as new satellites will ‘get in the way’ science
Astronomers have dubbed plans for a high-speed global internet a ‘tragedy’ as the thousands of new satellites required will get in the way of key scientific observations.
‘…in 20 years or less, for a good part the night anywhere in the world, the human eye would see more satellites than stars.’
Link to original article:
1998: “For many years NASA and the Department of Defense were skeptical about the dangers of space debris. The problem seemed abstract, residing more in computer models than in hard experience. And it challenged the can-do mentality of space enthusiasts. Earth’s orbit seemed too large and empty to pollute.”
2010: “The Kessler syndrome is in effect. We’re in a runaway environment, and we won’t be able to use space in the future if we don’t start dealing with this now.”