back to article FAA wants rocket jockeys to clean up after their space launch parties

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed rules for commercial space launch companies to address orbital debris, a growing threat to spacecraft and satellites. Detailed this week in a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) [PDF], the FAA wants commercial space operators to take responsibility for disposing of the …

  1. Martin Gregorie

    25 <b>YEARS</b> sounds a bit long

    However, the FAA proposes that operators should be allowed up to 25 years in which the upper stage is removed from orbit using the uncontrolled or natural decay method.

    Dunno about the rest of you lot, but to me this sounds a bit too much like: "Should be long enough for everybody to forget who put it up there in the first place, so fill your boots, boys".

    1. FeepingCreature Bronze badge

      Re: 25 <b>YEARS</b> sounds a bit long

      Well, orbits are extremely predictable, so this just comes down to not allowing operators to even launch satellites that won't naturally decay over 25 years.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: 25 <b>YEARS</b> sounds a bit long

        I was contemplating whether this would be handled by requiring a bloody great pile of money in escrow for twenty-five years, or by the companies involved dissolving and reinventing themselves every twenty years?

  2. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Twenty minutes into the future

    "It's the Annual Sky Clearance, an event when the Zik Zak Corporation shoots down all its obsolete satellites, causing debris to rain down upon Earth. There are carnivals and sales to celebrate, and everyone walks around under metal umbrellas to protect themselves."

    Max Headroom, episode 13

    We all grinned wryly at the spectacle, but little did we know how prescient this was. Of course, in the show they had to call the company "Zik Zak" as nobody would believe a daft name like "X".

  3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    A bit late?

    The FAA only have jurisdiction over USA companies, US launches and some non-US companies who mostly or partly operate from the USA. I doubt Russia will be taking too much notice of this and China certainly don't seem too bothered at the moment and the Norks don't give a rats ass.. Some others likely will agree with the principle though, eg launches from allied/friendly nations such as EU[*], India, Japan, New Zealand, maybe even the UK if we ever get a successful orbital launch site operational.

    It's nice that FAA is thinking about the topic and trying to take a lead in standards, but we've known about this issue for quite some time now so it'd have been nice to do this 10 years or more ago.

    * Yeah, the EU isn't a "nation", but ESA doesn't belong to any one nation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A bit late?

      "It's nice that FAA is thinking about the topic and trying to take a lead in standards, but we've known about this issue for quite some time now so it'd have been nice to do this 10 years or more ago."

      10 years ago? I think some sort of plan could have been agreed LONG before the current crop of private enterprises started lofting lumps of metal and plastic into orbit, as all manner of stuff might never have made it into orbit in the first place. Which would help prevent the likelihood of failed/dead/redundant space hardware from colliding with other bits of hardware, including anything with humans on board.

      And in years to come, if a Kessler syndrome situation occurs AND we find a biggish asteroid is going to impact Earth, any potential escapees from the planet could be prevented from leaving due to a debris cloud established over perhaps only a few years :-( So, it'll just be humans own damn fault if this scenario occurs... :-(

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like