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Don Kessler, Dr. Darren McKnight, Tuesday, 2-7-12 February 8, 2012

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Don Kessler, Dr. Darren McKnight, Tuesday, 2-7-12

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1707-BWB-2012-02-07.mp3

Guests:  Donald J. Kessler, Dr. Darren McKnight.  Topics:  The National Research Council  report: Limiting Future Collision Risk to Spacecraft: An Assessment of NASA’s Meteoroid and Orbital Debris Programs (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13244). You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed Donald (Don) Kessler and Dr. Darren McKnight to the program to discuss the above mentioned NRC orbital debris report.  Mr. Kessler started us out with the background and reasons for the current NRC study.  He directed us to the list of goals on P. 3 of the report, a list that we talked about during the entire program.  In this introductory discussion, he talked about space policy and the need to clean the space environment, saying mitigation was insufficient on its own.  In talking about the structure, organization and work of the committee doing the study, our guests provided us with a comprehensive description of the space debris problem, the types of technologies being considered for use in addressing the problem, and time lines for LEO, MEO, & GEO intervention.  Listeners asked about behavior in response to comments made by our guests for rules of the road and we took a hard look at intentional acts as compared to behavior out of ignorance or not understanding the problem.  Insurance rates and our decades long history of space activity was made part of the analysis  Some debris technologies and counter measures were talked about such as tethers, satellite drag devices, radar and its issues, and more. I asked both our guests if we were at a point where commercial/entrepreneurial businesses could take hold regarding debris cleanups.  As you will hear, we are getting close but not quite there yet.  Our guests gave us many examples to illustrate the points they were making in this discussion.  As related to the comments on behavior, caller Jon brought up Game Theory along with the Tragedy of the Commons.  One of the main points made throughout the program was that there were lots of variables and uncertainties in how best to deal with debris issues.  The uncertainties make it far more difficult for companies to take action and for policy to be made.  This is a discussion you do not want to miss.  Later, Alistair called in with concern for MEO debris and collisions.  One of his questions concerned potential damage to SSP materials from debris impact.  Our guests had much to say about this issue which might just be an SSP show stopper!  Throughout the first segment, we talked about the need for a NASA & other agency budget increase for cleaning up the space environment, space cleanup expenses, who might pay for them and also the Kessler Syndrome and that even if there were no new launches, the debris issue would continue escalating. 

In our second segment, John called in wondering if down the road using RLVs would help the problem given there would be less space junk hardware left in obit.  As you will hear, it helps but it is not a solution to the debris problem.  During this shorter segment, other ideas were mentioned in the context of their applicability to LEO or another location.  Near the end of the program, Darren said it comes down to paying now or paying much more later. 

Please post your comments/questions for our guests on The Space Show blog.

Nicholas (Nick) Johnson, Monday, 12-5-11 December 6, 2011

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Nicholas (Nick) Johnson, Monday, 12-5-11

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1666-BWB-2011-12-05.mp3

 

Nicholas (Nick) Johnson. Topics:  Space debris issues.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  The Space Show/OGLF is now engaged in its annual fundraising drive. Please see & act upon our appeal at https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/space-show-2011-fundraising-campaign.  We welcomed Nick Johnson back to the show for a comprehensive discussion on space debris issues.  We started out with an assessment of the space debris problem as of today.  Here, Mr. Johnson talked with us about the impact of sun on space debris through both the solar max and the solar minimum.  I referenced the NRC report and asked if concurred that we were at the “tipping” point in the debris issue.  We talked about cleaning up debris and our guest said that various options were being looked at but we were not there yet.  Nick mentioned a few possible technologies but that funding was needed, demo projects needed to be carried out, and that international cooperation and funding consortium ideas were being explored.  Space attorney Robert called in regarding some of the legal issue needing to be addressed based on the Outer Space Treaty, the Liability Treaty and other legal documents.  Perhaps the biggest legal issue is that of needing permission from the owner of the hardware to retrieve or do something with it so that it does not add to the debris problem.  We did talk about mitigation strategies for newer satellites and I inquired why the 25 year boundary for keeping the satellite from becoming debris.  Jerry called in and wanted to know about the possibility of magnetic cleansing and suggested VASMIR.  Another listener asked about satellite upset events that happen when a satellite gets hit with really small flakes of debris causing the satellite to reboot.  Before the break, we talked about the return to Earth of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) and Nick talked about tracking the return of objects.  Don’t miss this discussion.  I also asked him about Burnt Frost, the U.S. satellite shoot down in 2008.  We started the second segment with a listener question about possible titanium tanks on Phobos-Grunt and reentry concerns.  Nick said that Russia said the main tanks were aluminum and that Russia should be addressing reentry concerns.  We talked in general about the problem of hydrazine and it remaining frozen during reentry.  Another listener asked about plutonium on board spacecraft and the Russian accident in Canada with Cosmos 954.  Another listener asked about cubesat and possible debris issues.  Space tugs for debris removal were discussed as were Earth-based lasers.  International cooperation was discussed and of course ITAR came up.  As the program was ending, we talked about NASA’s reentry plans for both the ISS and the Hubble Space Telescope.  Nick also clarified the law for us regarding keeping pieces of satellites or debris that hit the Earth as they remain the property of the launching country.  Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog URL above.