[amsat-bb] Re: Satellites in collision
antonio at qualcomm.com
Fri Feb 13 08:43:32 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
There's a great article in the International Herald
Tribune. Unfortunately, IHT has also carried several other articles
about the collision with similar titles, so the good one is hard to
find. Use this link.
This article discusses the "what did they know" aspect. In fact it
says so much that it is confusing. First it says they did not know
"Iridium didn't have information prior to the collision to know that
the collision would occur,"
Then it says they get 400 "conjunction reports" from "US Strategic
Command Joint Space Operations Center" per week (ie a notification
that an object will pass within 5 km of a satellite), implying that
they suffer from information overload.
Then they say the reports aren't any good anyway.
"So the ability actually to do anything with all the information is
"Even if we had a report of an impending direct collision, the error
would be such that we might manoeuvre into a collision as well as
move away from one,"
Congratulations to the author for pulling these quotes
together. Unfortunately, it still leaves the reader uncertain about
The first quote may be lawyer-speak. After all, nobody tracks these
objects well enough to "KNOW that the collision WOULD occur". That
isn't the same as being warned that a one ton satellite is going to
whiz by within 5 km.
When the first fellow says "Iridium didn't have information prior",
is he saying the DOD missed this one, or is he saying, as in the
other quotes, that the conjunction reports aren't accurate enough to
take action? Could be either.
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