Space work is becoming normal
This is good. And it's a great time to be alive. This stuff was science fiction not too long ago.
International Launch Services (ILS) sent up a Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome this morning with a payload containing the first commercial spacecraft designed to service and extend the life of satellites in orbit. The 10:17 UTC launch saw the EUTELSAT 5 West B satellite and Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) leave …
I should think so. Launching a new satellite means building it, then risking losing it during the launch.
This MEV tech means you can contract someone to repair, and if the MEV is lost its no skin off your back. Or is it that you buy a MEV and risk losing that ?
So the question then is : which is less expensive to lose, a MEV or a new satellite.
Space is a risky business.
I had an even cheaper solution but it got shot down for some reason.
I suggested just flinging lawyers, lobbiests, politicians, & telemarketers at the satelites to knock them into corrected positions. The flung fodder would then either continue off into space or would fall back to Earth & burn up on reentry- either way no loss to Humanity. We've got an infinite supply of the bastards & can afford to fling them until the HDotU.
Catapults are cheap. Telemarketers are even cheaper. =-D
"Or is it that you buy a MEV and risk losing that"
More like buying a share in an MEV, or renting it - once it's done the job for you it can trundle off and do a job for someone else. If it can service 10 satellites per launch, it saves you 90% (ish)
Having said that, it'd be even cheaper to have enough fuel on-board to manoeuvre yourself. It does facilitate a backup plan though.
So the question then is : which is less expensive to lose, a MEV or a new satellite[?]
That is a question, yes, but not the only one. I would like to see a breakdown of costs and returns on a new satellite versus keeping an older one in orbit. Sooner or later, the law of diminishing returns will come into play, but I have no idea when that would be.
I know that it was done for a feature film, with better budgets, but all of the Zero-X model making and filmography was absolutely superb for the time, and still stands up to some pretty close scrutiny when using freeze-frame on large TV's from DVD today, something that was never imagined at the time.
When I see things like this in the commercial environment I kind of assume that the tech has been developed, and probably been superseded, in the military environment. Probably a cold war sort of attitude given the costs but I can't shake the feeling that this is a commercial venture spun out from a black project in order to generate some cash. Nice all the same but I wonder what the 'real' one does...
"I wonder what the 'real' one does"
It's a satellite that can grab onto another one and move it around...so pretty much just that. There's just not much else that could be done.
Sure, they could take a surveillance satellite and move it out of orbit, but you might as well just destroy it. Or you could try and move into a position to intercept it's ground communications, but that's so obvious that surely everyone uses encryption?
Why bother moving enemy satellites? First of all, the owner will know it happened and will want to retaliate (somehow).
It's much easier to just send a small piece of metal in the right orbit and reduce the enemy satellite to smithereens. Nobody would be able to prove it wasn't an accident, no ground radar can see a lone steel bolt flying around AFAIK.
First of all, the owner will know it happened and will want to retaliate (somehow).
"Somehow" would be the easy bit - if the MEV grabs hold of the rocket bell, all the victim has to do is fire their engine. The MEV may not be thrown off (depends on grappling mechanism) but it's unlikely to come out of the encounter well. You may well damage your bird as well with such a tactic but some people would consider that preferable to having their satellite carried away by a third party.
> smithereens in orbit is not a good idea
I know, but it's the military we're talking about, then there is the plausible deniability: "No, it was clearly a freak accident, of course we would never do something like that". (Last, the nosy satellites are usually in quite low orbit, so debris aren't that big an issue, and they will clear out pretty quickly.)
The real ones (for there are several) is called the X-37, it also has some form of stealth capability since it can move away from tracking and has multi year space capability. Further details are somewhat sketchy and probably involve black helicopters coming to visit whoever said anything.
Loving this, a fleet of basically "Wall-E's" flying round orbit cleaning up the mess.
Few thoughts jump out.
1. What if someone hacks one and grabs a US satellite and pushes it into Russia etc.
2. What if any terrorist idiot hacks one and flies it into the space station.
3 Brilliant if you want to grab a dead satellite and point at Earth, start the nose dive then MEV pulls up and the dead satellite burns up.
> What if any terrorist idiot hacks one and flies it into the space station.
He doesn't need a MEV, all active satellites have propulsion. Just hack any one of them, ideally one in a nearby orbit, and you're set. The point of the MEV is just to move satellites which can't move on their own anymore (out of fuel, dead), it's a tow truck.
The ISS would simply move out of the way as it does already in addition to keeping itself from descending and burning up in the atmosphere. It expect the current tracking systems protecting it would see even a rogue satellite coming in time.
I further expect the chemical rockets on the ISS would be faster and more responsive than the electrical ones on an MEV as well. Also changing orbit quickly is not that easy so responding to the ISS's evasion would probably have to involve going around again, maybe a few times.
It isn't a Turkey shoot.
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