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Re: deorbiting (was Re: Iridium)

on 3/11/00 10:01 PM, Franklin Antonio at antonio@qualcomm.com wrote:

> At 10:41 PM 3/11/00 +1000, Matt Donohoe wrote:
>> Why would they force the satellites into Decaying orbits ?
> Generally, at end of life, one puts satellites into a decaying orbit so
> that they will burn up.  This gets rid of them.  Otherwise, a satellite in
> a stable orbit will stay there for a very very long time, and add to the
> ever increasing debris in earth orbit.  If (when?) one of these objects
> collides with another, the resulting smaller pieces of garbage that result
> will mostly also be in stable orbits, and many of these pieces will be too
> small to track, resulting in an increased hazard of space
> navigation.  Collision with one of these small fragments is much like
> collision with a bullet.  The velocities are high.

There are enough useless (non-functional) satellites that ham radio
operators put up there that we don't need any useless commercial birds.

Ooops!  I wasn't supposed to say that.  I am being politically incorrect.
Uh, excuse me, I'll correct myself: Every amateur satellite that is launched
is useful whether it works or not.


> I have a hard time believing that they would deorbit the Iridium satellites
> any time soon.  One would imagine that the bankruptcy judge, with the
> creditors interest in mind, would allow the most time possible for someone
> to come up with something useful to do with one or more of them.

They have no money to keep the ground stations operational.  So they don't
have much choice.

>  On the 
> other hand, from what I know about them, these satellites are extremely
> specialized, and it is therefore difficult to imagine other uses.  Perhaps
> there is equipment on board beyond the basic payload that is used for
> Iridium service, and perhaps that equipment may have some use.  I don't
> know.  Again the disclaimer: This is speculation.

It is pretty specialized.  That's for sure.

> The failure of Iridium is terribly damaging to the credibility of the whole
> satellite industry.  This is unfortunate.  Even tho some products I've
> worked on compete with these folks, I'm sorry to see this happen.

I don't think so at all.  The who concept was due to the fact that the wife
of a Motorola executive couldn't make a cell phone call while on vacation in
the Caribbean.  That's how the whole thing started!

The failure of Iridium isn't a damage to the satellite industry at all.
Rather it shows the folly of some pointy head marketing folks who don't sit
and think through whether or not what is being put into space will have any
real sustainable market or rather if it is just a gimmick to please
someone's ego.

Iridium should never have been put up in the first place.  And I firmly
believe that the other satellite systems like Teledesic will suffer a
similar fate.  Sure, it's all great technology, but in the commercial and
consumer world technology has to be practical AND cost effective to be of
any use.



Jon Ogden



"A life lived in fear is a life half lived."

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