The Kessler Syndrome 2020/Q2

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Last updated: 2020-05-12

SpaceNews: Assure Space won’t cover collision risk in low Earth orbit

“Assure Space continues to insure launches, satellites operating in geostationary orbit, satellites raising their orbit through low Earth orbit and missions to the international space station.

“But if someone comes to me and says, ‘I want one year on-orbit coverage for a small satellite in low Earth orbit,’ the answer is no,” Richard Parker said. “I can’t charge them today what I perceive the real risk to be.”

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BBC News: OneWeb files for bankruptcy

“Rumours of a collapse had been swirling around OneWeb this past week. It had raised £2.6bn to implement its project but experts in the space industry speculated that double this sum would probably be needed to complete the system.

“The statement released by OneWeb in the early hours of Saturday, London time, said the company had been close to obtaining financing but that, “the process did not progress because of the financial impact and market turbulence related to the spread of Covid-19″.”

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Starlink satellites seen in Doppler reflections from the Graves satellite radar 2020-04-06


“Over on YouTube William IU2EFA has been uploading multiple short “meteor scatter” videos. This involves using an RTL-SDR to briefly receive distant radio stations via the RF signal reflecting off the ionized trail left by meteors entering the atmosphere. However, in a similar fashion satellites orbiting the earth can also reflect distant radio stations. 

“In one of his latest videos William caught a train of Starlink satellites reflecting the signal from the Graves radar in France. To do this he uses a 10 element VHF Yagi, and an RTL-SDR running with HDSDR and SpectrumLab. In the video you can see and hear the change in frequency caused by the doppler shift.” 2020-04-22
STARLINK x STARLINK: What’s worse than a train of Starlink satellites cutting across an astro-photo? *Two* trains of Starlink satellites cutting across an astro-photo. In the Czech republic on April 19th, amateur astronomer Zdenek Bardon captured perhaps the first picture of two orthogonal Starlink trains in a single image.

“I was trying to photograph disintegrating Comet ATLAS (C2019 Y4),” says Bardon. “My local night sky suffers from light pollution, and stacking of multiple exposures is necessary in order to image the comet. Unfortunately, I had not considered the trajectories of the Starlink satellites, and many of my exposures were contaminated.”

This is the latest illustration of a growing problem. To date, SpaceX has launched 360 Starlink satellites — with more than 12,000 planned. These satellites are showing up unwelcomed in so many images of the night sky, we now have an entire photo gallery devoted to them:

No photo description available.

Starlink reflections seen on meteor detection system
I received the following reflections on my meteor detection system in Plymouth, UK on 2020-05-01 when the Starlink 6 batch of satellites (launched 2020-04-22) was passing NW-SE over the Bay of Biscay. My SDRPlay RSP1a receiver is tuned to the GRAVES meteor radar on 143.05 MHz with the audio spectrum displayed in Spectrum Lab.

SpaceX Describes Efforts to Minimize Adverse Effects of Starlink Satellites on Astronomy

On Monday, 27 April, the Astro2020 Decadal Survey Committee held a virtual meeting on the topic “Optical Interference from Satellite Constellations.” Among those who made presentations were Joel Parriott, AAS Deputy Executive Officer & Director of Public Policy; Patrick Seitzer (University of Michigan), a member of the AAS Committee on Light Pollution, Radio Interference, and Space Debris; Tony Tyson (University of California, Davis), Chief Scientist of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope); and founder Elon Musk and other representatives of SpaceX, the company behind the Falcon and Starship rockets, Dragon and Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the ever-growing Starlink constellation of communication satellites.

Download PDF materials from the meeting here.

SpaceX subsequently posted a rather lengthy and detailed update on its efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of its Starlink satellites on ground-based astronomy. It begins, “SpaceX is launching Starlink to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband connectivity across the globe, including to locations where internet has traditionally been too expensive, unreliable, or entirely unavailable. We also firmly believe in the importance of a natural night sky for all of us to enjoy, which is why we have been working with leading astronomers around the world to better understand the specifics of their observations and engineering changes we can make to reduce satellite brightness.”

Read the full article here.

Russian upper stage fuel tank disintgrates

#18SPCS confirmed that the breakup of FREGAT DEB (TANK) (#37756, 2011-037B) occurred on May 8, 2020, between 0402 and 0551 UTC. Tracking 65 associated pieces – no indication caused by collision. #spaceflightsafety #spacedebris— 18 SPCS (@18SPCS) May 9, 2020

65 pieces debris are being tracked in various orbits between 422 and 3606km altitude.

Read full article here [The Register 2020-05-12]