11 thoughts on “Space Traffic”

  1. Not sure what to make of this yet as I would want to hear SpaceX side of the story. I believe all the anticipated the mega-constellations are from US-based companies so it would seem prudent for the US to jump to the forefront on this. However, it’s probably to the advantage of these companies that things remain the wild-West for as long as possible to be sure whatever solution is ultimately proposed is actually going after real problems rather than imagined problems.

  2. I’m curious if the Starlink satellites use their link transmission timing to determine their positions with extreme accuracy, so that SpaceX knew no maneuver was required?

    1. You’d still have the problem that you don’t know the position of the other object with the same accuracy.

  3. My first guess is that moving the Starlink sat was probably going to mess something up for the whole constellation, while ESA’s sat could (I suppose) maneuver without any domino effect.

    1. That particular satellite had been dropped out of the constellation and into a much lower orbit to use for de-orbiting tests.

      1. My guess, and only that, is that the deorbiting satellites are being used to establish expectations for deorbiting behavior and propulsion would have screwed up the data.

  4. It sets a precedent, doesn’t it? If the constellation is going to be a service provider then it needs to be a dependable one. As long as they stay in their lane and don’t wander then the ESA demand is akin to someone demanding the railroad “temporarily” move out of the way. Just imagine what will happen when more satellites are up there?

  5. You just have to make a tie-in.

    Say two people have been drinking rum in a roadside bar. One is a guy from Europe named Aeolus, and he is pretty buzzed and heading to the bathroom, swaying a bit as he threads his way between tables. His position probability cloud, the area of space that he and his limbs might traverse, is fairly large and somewhat vaguely defined.

    The other guy, who calls himself Starlink, hasn’t hit the bar yet, but that’s where he’s headed. Being stone cold sober, unusual for the bar’s patrons, his body position cloud barely extends past his T-shirt and shorts.

    The two patrons are going to either cross paths in the narrow space between the bar and the tables or someone is going to have to alter their path to take a less direct route to their destination.

    The bartender assumes they’re both a bit drunk, which is the norm for his establishment, and that they have more than a 1 in 10,000 chance of colliding. To avoid the potential for knocking over tables and sending drinks flying, and he recommends that both alter course, waving his hands and muttering something in Spanish.

    But Starlink, stone cold sober, knows that his course will take him outside the fuzzy position cloud of the European, and he stays on a direct course for the bar. The European figures Starlink is as drunk as he is, and that there is indeed a chance of collision, and he weaves around a couple tables to avoid a close encounter.

    Naturally, everyone thinks the sober American was the problem.

  6. I had no idea satellite constellations were the responsibility of “operators” who were summoned to duty by email triggered beepers. It’s a wonder there aren’t more problems. When I was a sewer worker, we had to deal with a chlorine vapor event because the on-call guy’s beeper battery went dead.

    I was working at that job when Three-Mile Island happened. Watching it unfold on the break-room TV, one of my co-workers said, “It’s people like us are responsible for these things.” Too true.

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