The Kessler Syndrome 2020

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Latest update 22 Jan 2020

SpaceX gets approval for new orbits: (extract follows)

The FCC said SpaceX can field satellites in 72 rings around the Earth at 550 kilometers — three times as many as the commission approved in April. 

The commission rebuffed cubesat-operator Kepler Communications’ request to deny or postpone a decision on the respacing, and said concerns raised by fleet operator SES about signal interference were “moot.”

SpaceX has launched 120 of a planned 12,000* small broadband satellites into low Earth orbit. The company is placing its first 1,584 satellites in a 550-kilometer orbit, with later satellites planned for higher and lower altitudes. 

In August, SpaceX told the FCC that by tripling the number of lanes for those first Starlink satellites, it could build out enough coverage to offer internet access in southern states by the 2020 hurricane season. 

*The total constellation is now planned to consist of 42,000 satellites.


2020.01.16 FCC approval of SpaceX plans may have been unlawful

A new paper suggests that the agency broke U.S. environmental law in its approval of the satellites and that if it were to be sued in court, it would likely lose. Link to article: Scientific American

All Sky, All the Time – Global Network of Robotic Telescopes ASAS-SN (Chile)
Twitter: @SuperASASSN



IRAS (13777) and GGSE-4 (2828) Potential Collision 29 Feb 2020

Twitter: LeoLabs, Inc.@LeoLabs_Space:

1/ We are monitoring a close approach event involving IRAS (13777), the decommissioned space telescope launched in 1983, and GGSE-4 (2828), an experimental US payload launched in 1967. (IRAS image credit: NASA)
9:30pm · 27 Jan 2020 

2/ On Jan 29 at 23:39:35 UTC, these two objects will pass close by one another at a relative velocity of 14.7 km/s (900km directly above Pittsburgh, PA). Our latest metrics on the event show a predicted miss distance of between 15-30 meters.
9:30pm · 27 Jan 2020

3/ These numbers are especially alarming considering the size of IRAS at 3.6m x 3.24m x 2.05m. The combined size of both objects increases the computed probability of a collision, which remains near 1 in 100.
9:30pm · 27 Jan 2020

Twitter: Jonathan McDowell@planet4589:

The NASA/NIVR IRAS satellite and the NRO/USN POPPY 5B satellite (aka GGSE 4) are predicted to make a close approach on Wednesday. POPPY 5B has 18-metre-long gravity gradient booms so a 15-to-30 metre predicted miss distance is alarming.

Twitter: LeoLabs, Inc.@LeoLabs_Space:

Our latest data on the IRAS / GGSE 4 event shows potential miss distances of 13-87 meters, with a lowered collision probability currently at 1 in 1000. Time of closest approach remains at 2020-01-29 23:39:35.707 UTC
11:43pm · 28 Jan 2020

The two satellites at almost closest approach (10 second tick marks)
The satellites are travelling in opposite directions.