Tag Archives: NORAD

DEORBITING SPACE DEBRIS FRAGMENTS USING ONLY EQUIPMENT LOCATED ON THE GROUND

The researchers at NORAD*, which is located under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colorado, are currently tracking 20,000 objects in space as big as a softball or bigger.  Most of these orbiting objects are space debris fragments that can pose a collision hazard to other orbiting satellites such as the International Space Station.

Tracking these fragments of debris is complicated and expensive.  Preventing collisions is expensive, too.  So, too, is designing and building space vehicles that can withstand high-speed impacts.  A cheaper alternative may be to sweep some of the debris out of space to minimize its hazard to other orbit-crossing satellites.

When two orbiting objects collide with one another, the energy exchange can be large and destructive.  Two one-pound fragments impacting each other in a solid collision in low-altitude orbits intersecting at a 15-degree incidence angle can create the energy caused by exploding two pounds of TNT!!

One scientific study showed that returning substantial numbers of debris fragments to Earth with a hydrogen-fueled spaceborne tug would cost approximately $3 billion for each percent reduction in the fragment population – which has been increasing by about 12 percent per year, on average.

Fortunately, a powerful, but relatively inexpensive laser on the ground pointing vertically upward can be used to deorbit fragments of space debris traveling around the earth in low-altitude orbits.  The radial velocity increment provided by such a ground-based laser causes the object to reenter the earth’s atmosphere as shown in  the sketch in the upper left-hand corner of Figure 1.

The total required velocity increment can be added in much smaller increments a little at a time over days or weeks.  Drag with the atmosphere was neglected in the case considered in Figure 1, but, in the real world, atmospheric drag would help the object return to Earth.

Radiation pressure created by the assumed 50,000 watt laser beam is equivalent to 40 suns spread over the one square foot cross section of the object.  The total photon pressure equals 1/13th of a pound per square foot.

*  NORAD = North American Aerospace Defense (Command)

Figure1The researchers at NORAD*, which is located under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colorado, are currently tracking 20,000 objects in space as big as a softball or bigger.  Most of these orbiting objects are space debris fragments that can pose a collision hazard to other orbiting satellites such as the International Space Station.

Tracking these fragments of debris is complicated and expensive.  Preventing collisions is expensive, too.  So, too, is designing and building space vehicles that can withstand high-speed impacts.  A cheaper alternative may be to sweep some of the debris out of space to minimize its hazard to other orbit-crossing satellites.

When two orbiting objects collide with one another, the energy exchange can be large and destructive.  Two one-pound fragments impacting each other in a solid collision in low-altitude orbits intersecting at a 15-degree incidence angle can create the energy caused by exploding two pounds of TNT!!

One scientific study showed that returning substantial numbers of debris fragments to Earth with a hydrogen-fueled spaceborne tug would cost approximately $3 billion for each percent reduction in the fragment population – which has been increasing by about 12 percent per year, on average.

Fortunately, a powerful, but relatively inexpensive laser on the ground pointing vertically upward can be used to deorbit fragments of space debris traveling around the earth in low-altitude orbits.  The radial velocity increment provided by such a ground-based laser causes the object to reenter the earth’s atmosphere as shown in  the sketch in the upper left-hand corner of Figure 1.

The total required velocity increment can be added in much smaller increments a little at a time over days or weeks.  Drag with the atmosphere was neglected in the case considered in Figure 1, but, in the real world, atmospheric drag would help the object return to Earth.

Radiation pressure created by the assumed 50,000 watt laser beam is equivalent to 40 suns spread over the one square foot cross section of the object.  The total photon pressure equals 1/13th of a pound per square foot.

*  NORAD = North American Aerospace Defense (Command)

Figure2

Figure 2:  These engineering calculations show that the 20,000 space debris fragments now circling the earth in low-altitude orbits could, on average, each be deorbited with ground-based lasers for approximately $40,000 worth of electrical power.  Those same ground-based lasers could be used in a different mode to reboost valuable or dangerous payloads in low-altitude orbits or to send those payloads bound for geosynchoronous orbits onto their transfer ellipses.  (SOURCE:  Short course “Fundamentals of Space Exploration”.  Instructor: Tom Logsdon. (Seal Beach, CA)

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Are We At The Brink Of Space War? Russian Object 2014-28E could be a satellite-killer.

Space debris populations seen from outside geosynchronous orbit (GEO). Note the two primary debris fields, the ring of objects in GEO, and the cloud of objects in low earth orbit (LEO).

Applied Technology Institute (ATICourses) offers a variety of courses on Space, Satellite & Aerospace Engineering and Radar, Missiles & Combat Systems.  We think the news on mysterious Object 2014-28E launched by Russian military could be of interest to our readers.

A strange vehicle floating above our atmosphere could be Russia’s first piece of space weaponry launched since the end of the Cold War.
Called Object 2014-28E, it has been making unusual movements towards other Russian space vehicles over the past few weeks, and last night it was spotted moving over Guatemala.
It is now being monitored by Norad, the US Military space defence command, since no one can work out for certain what it is.
On the one hand it could be nothing more than a civilian project to help clean up space junk, or a craft for refuelling Russian satellites already in space.
But another, more sinister theory, is that it has been designed to damage satellites belonging to other nations, such as those of the US. In other words, it could be a “satellite killer”.
Patricia Lewis, research director at think-tank Chatham House, told the FT: “It could have a number of functions, some civilian and some military. One possibility is for some kind of grabber bar.
“Another would be kinetic pellets which shoot out at another satellite. Or possibly there could be a satellite-to-satellite cyber attack or jamming.
She added that as long as countries are adopting military methods of attack on the ground, there is no reason why this shouldn’t extend to space. “It would be odd if space were to remain the one area that [militaries] don’t get their hands on,” she said.
It was only last week, after all, that hackers linked to the Chinese government infiltrated US federal weather satellites.
The fact that Russia has not declared the launch of this mysterious object has exacerbated fears of a revival of the Kremlin’s former project to destroy satellites. During the Cold War, Stalin introduced a project called Istrebitel Sputnikov for just this purpose, and sent military vehicles into space to damage US satellites.
The project came to an end in 1989 when the iron curtain fell – a time when many of the clandestine research projects Soviet and US engineers were working on were closed down.
But Russian military officials publicly stated that they would restart research if their relations with the US over anti-missile defence treaties deteriorated.
Given the many sanctions the West is currently placing on Russia due to its involvement in the Ukraine crisis, it seems like the time is ripe for Moscow to take up its space weapons once more.

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Defense Agency Has Breaking News on Santa

1955 Sears ad with the misprinted telephone number that led to the NORAD Tracks Santa Program

“Why is the military reporting on Santa?” you ask. Well, it started with a bad phone number that had kids calling an important colonel who was trying to defend the United States and Canada.

Now just why does a military group with a serious name like North American Aerospace Defense Command track Santa and take notes on just where he is and what he is up to?

Any kid can tell you, the man who says, “ho, ho, ho” is no danger to anyone. He may eat one too many a cookie, but that’s no crime. So why is the military watching him?

Good question.

For more than 50 years NORAD and a group that came before it, CONAD, have tracked Santa on Christmas Eve.

This publicity picture for NORAD Tracks Santa shows two Northeastern Air Defense Sector members with radar equipment in December 2008.

The adventure began in 1955 after Sears put the wrong number for Santa Claus into an advertisement. So all the kids who called trying to talk to Santa got none other than the Commander-in-Chief of another group, the Continental Air Defense Command.

Col. Shoup got on it right away. Within no time his staff was checking CONAD’s powerful radar equipment to give children everywhere information on exactly where Santa was and when he was there.

Since that time, the United States and Canada got together and that’s how CONAD became NORAD. And the men, women, family and friends of NORAD decided to keep up the Christmas mission that Col. Shoup started. They pitch in to take phone calls and emails from children all around the world.

So starting Dec. 24, children can track Santa online and get the latest info right quick.

Between now and then, kids can also get updates on what the big guy in red is up to.

 


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Defense Agency Has Breaking News on Santa

1955 Sears ad with the misprinted telephone number that led to the NORAD Tracks Santa Program

“Why is the military reporting on Santa?” you ask. Well, it started with a bad phone number that had kids calling an important colonel who was trying to defend the United States and Canada.

Now just why does a military group with a serious name like North American Aerospace Defense Command track Santa and take notes on just where he is and what he is up to?

Any kid can tell you, the man who says, “ho, ho, ho” is no danger to anyone. He may eat one too many a cookie, but that’s no crime. So why is the military watching him?

Good question.

For more than 50 years NORAD and a group that came before it, CONAD, have tracked Santa on Christmas Eve.

This publicity picture for NORAD Tracks Santa shows two Northeastern Air Defense Sector members with radar equipment in December 2008.

The adventure began in 1955 after Sears put the wrong number for Santa Claus into an advertisement. So all the kids who called trying to talk to Santa got none other than the Commander-in-Chief of another group, the Continental Air Defense Command.

Col. Shoup got on it right away. Within no time his staff was checking CONAD’s powerful radar equipment to give children everywhere information on exactly where Santa was and when he was there.

Since that time, the United States and Canada got together and that’s how CONAD became NORAD. And the men, women, family and friends of NORAD decided to keep up the Christmas mission that Col. Shoup started. They pitch in to take phone calls and emails from children all around the world.

So starting Dec. 24, children can track Santa online and get the latest info right quick.

Between now and then, kids can also get updates on what the big guy in red is up to.

 


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