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Thread: Space station to move to avoid debris

  1. #31
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    Re: Space station to move to avoid debris

    Quote Originally Posted by RabidAlpaca View Post
    Two things:
    - Once you get the craft up to the speed of the debris, most of that momentum can be maintained. You don't start from zero with every new object. In fact, most objects within near the same orbit and size are probably going at close the same speed.
    - Solar power works much better in space outside of our atmosphere. The entire ISS is powered by solar panels. Such a salvage robot would more than likely use that as a power source, expending pretty much zero fuel.
    I am afraid newtons law is still in effect. Some propelent is going to have to be expened to move or alter trajectories. Solar power would just be a way to add energy to the propelent. There are ways that dont use the traditional propelent method, but they would not be practical at this point for that type application. I as the resident rocket surgeon thought you should know. The rest of your post is fairly accurate. Just the part were solar panels would be the prime motive force was off.
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  2. #32
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    Re: Space station to move to avoid debris

    Quote Originally Posted by RabidAlpaca View Post
    Not quite. Although there is little resistance in most earth orbits, earth's atmosphere still produces drag. The lower the orbit, the higher the drag. The ISS has to periodically adjust their orbit due to degradation from atmospheric drag.


    Then you are apparently unfamiliar with ion thrusters. Using the solar panels and battery banks, an ion thruster can provide propulsion for attitude and velocity changes and is for the most part completely fueless. It does however use a special gas for the process to work, but that musn't be replaced for a very, very long time.


    Listen, this isn't rocket science. Well, I guess it is. There are a lot of ways for a craft to move around in orbit. The spacecraft could be equipped with ion thrusters on all sides in order to adjust it's position and speed. Ion thrusters do not provide a substantial amount of thrust, and are slow, but we're also not in a terrible hurry. In order to slow the spacecraft, instead of using just thrusters, sails could be opened to increase it's surface area, increasing drag by the atmosphere, slowing it relative to the space junk which mostly has a very very small surface area, and therefore very little drag. This of course would only be effective in LEO.

    We can already track the majority of the space debris from satellites and earth-based radars. Furthermore the robots could be equipped with radar and other sensors to hone in on garbage.

    There would not be one robot, there would be a swarm of robots moving about cleaning up our orbit. This is not out of the realm of possible for a corporation to do. There has been a recent birth of many private space corporations that have made great progress in leaps and bounds. There is even a company with serious plans for asteroid mining.


    Was this condescending statement, which made an assumption about my knowledge of space necessary? Did it add to the conversation in some way?
    Hey Alpaca ole pal ole buddy, Ion thrusters are definately not fuelless. Take it from your resident rocket surgeon. They are lower fuel use relitively speaking. Ion thrusters work by electromagneticly expeling ionized gases out the nozzell at exceptionally high velocity. They come in several varieties they can have very high thrust potential, or very low thrust potential, or somewhere in between. They can and for the most part do at this point in time use exotic gases for their propelent, xenon for one such gase. The gases are relitively rare and hense expensive. There are other type improved versions with better delta v potential that dont use exotic gas that are being developed. They are not in general use yet. That said wiseone is right on the mark when it comes to making vector changes in LEO.

    Alright boys and gurls this is right up your resident rockets surgeons alley. The way I would do it is use a laser mounted on a satelite with a fairly large delta V reserve. Laser would be solar powered by charging an ultra capicter bank. Laser would be mounted such that the resulting beam would be projected on a gimble mirror and focusing assembly for tracking targeting and termination phases. Satelite would be injected into orbit such that would be able to bring its laser to bear on orbital debrie probably higher orbit. Satelite would target, confirm target and then if the target is under a certain size vaporize it, if its over a certain size vaporize just part of the debree to alter is trajectory into a dergrading orbit. Lasers work much better in space as there is little atmoshpere to interfer with the beam. Use the sun to charge and power it and use your delta V reserve to position the satelite better to alter the orbit of larger debree. 1 to 2 megawatts for the laser should be sufficent for our purposes. the best type laser for this type work would be a pulse type laser. The lasing action would be very short bursts 1 millisecond or so. The object is to put a lot of energy on the target in a very short span. We therefor take advantage of free energy to do our work for us and minimize the manuvering hence fuel nessarry to complete the task at hand. Thats my idea.
    Last edited by PirateMk1; 10-08-12 at 09:38 AM. Reason: I can.
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  3. #33
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    Re: Space station to move to avoid debris

    Quote Originally Posted by PirateMk1 View Post
    Hey Alpaca ole pal ole buddy, Ion thrusters are definately not fuelless. Take it from your resident rocket surgeon. They are lower fuel use relitively speaking. Ion thrusters work by electromagneticly expeling ionized gases out the nozzell at exceptionally high velocity. They come in several varieties they can have very high thrust potential, or very low thrust potential, or somewhere in between. They can and for the most part do at this point in time use exotic gases for their propelent, xenon for one such gase. The gases are relitively rare and hense expensive. There are other type improved versions with better delta v potential that dont use exotic gas that are being developed. They are not in general use yet. That said wiseone is right on the mark when it comes to making vector changes in LEO.

    Alright boys and gurls this is right up your resident rockets surgeons alley. The way I would do it is use a laser mounted on a satelite with a fairly large delta V reserve. Laser would be solar powered by charging an ultra capicter bank. Laser would be mounted such that the resulting beam would be projected on a gimble mirror and focusing assembly for tracking targeting and termination phases. Satelite would be injected into orbit such that would be able to bring its laser to bear on orbital debrie probably higher orbit. Satelite would target, confirm target and then if the target is under a certain size vaporize it, if its over a certain size vaporize just part of the debree to alter is trajectory into a dergrading orbit. Lasers work much better in space as there is little atmoshpere to interfer with the beam. Use the sun to charge and power it and use your delta V reserve to position the satelite better to alter the orbit of larger debree. 1 to 2 megawatts for the laser should be sufficent for our purposes. the best type laser for this type work would be a pulse type laser. The lasing action would be very short bursts 1 millisecond or so. The object is to put a lot of energy on the target in a very short span. We therefor take advantage of free energy to do our work for us and minimize the manuvering hence fuel nessarry to complete the task at hand. Thats my idea.
    I knew it used the exotic gases, but I wasn't really classifying that as fuel directly in this case. I considered it as a facilitator for the electricity from the solar panels. It clearly gets used up, but from what I understand it can go for a very, very, very long time without being replaced. I only know a bit about ion thrusters because I did a project on Lorentz force in college. I was however studying rail gun technology and not thrusters. :P

    I'm definitely not a propulsion expert, I'm an electrical engineer. Just bringing my 2 cents to the table. Great post.
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