[amsat-bb] Re: Satellites in collision

Franklin Antonio antonio at qualcomm.com
Fri Feb 13 03:48:45 PST 2009

At 03:27 AM 2/13/2009, Rich Dailey (gmail) wrote:
>*If* the controllers of the Iridium satellite could alter it's orbit 
>slightly,  how would that have affected their bottom line as far as 
>the operation of the entire constellation?  Was it cheaper to just 
>let them crash,  and then apologize to the space community afterward?

Commercial satellites are horribly expensive.  Almost anything would 
have been preferable to just letting them crash.

They do station-keeping.  (If they didn't, the things wouldn't stay 
nicely spaced in their constellation, and the Iridium system design 
depends on keeping the satellites nicely spaced.)  Therefore they 
have the ability to make small orbit changes.  I believe that with 
enough advance notice an adjustment could have been done with a very 
small amount of fuel.  One can only conclude that they did not have 
advance notice.  I doubt we'll ever learn the inside story.

I'll bet they start up an effort to predict future collision 
possibilities pronto.

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list