Maintaining healthy orbital neighborhoods.
Taken from SpaceNews.
WASHINGTON — SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is performing well enough on orbit to give NASA confidence that the mission can last until August, an agency official said June 9.
As millions across the globe adjust to a new way of living and working, separated from family, friends and co-workers, our reliance on satellite services for connectivity and data has become even more critical. The coronavirus pandemic has made clear the consequences of being ill-prepared and failing to take preventive measures, despite warnings from experts about the inevitability of a global pandemic. Unfortunately, a similar scenario is playing out in space. As orbits become more densely populated, and conjunctions and near misses more likely, we need to act now to protect space assets and their orbital neighborhoods.
Orbital neighborhoods – from LEO to MEO to GEO – are changing. Once the purview of government agencies and multinational telecom corporations, orbital regimes are going through a period of uncertainty and transition. Large constellations, falling launch and satellite development costs, and innovative concepts in technology and service are changing how these “neighborhoods” are being used and the way in which they bring benefits to the global population. In order to protect this environment from an epidemic, we must advance the technical standards and policy initiatives that support this growth.
KEEP OUR ORBITAL NEIGHBORHOOD CLEAN
As with any new development, numerous adjacent services are sprouting up to provide support to the satellite residents in these orbital communities. Astroscale and our colleagues in other visionary space companies are already beginning to take the necessary steps to provide the logistical support for these increased activities. We expect there to be a bustling ecosystem that is not dissimilar to a growing community here on Earth. It will include long-haul transportation with dedicated launch vehicles, taxi rides offering delta-V to get between inclinations and orbits, commercial space station hotels and research facilities housing humans at work and play, and foundries providing in-orbit manufacturing. These new communities will need typical support services such as utilities, gas stations, garbage collection and repair services, to name a few.