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DeOrbit--Planned Obsolescence?



The recent thread about the possible future requirement to deorbit
non-functioning spacecraft was interesting, but I seem to have missed
any actual technical details other than it would require "some
hardware".

Let's assume for sake of discussion that such a system, be it thruster
or some other sort of device, is an "active" method for bringing a
bird down.

It would seem that a "passive" method might include the careful
calculation of the spacecraft orbit to only provide service for a
limited period of time.

Perhaps there is some way to take the knowledge learned about the
resonant pertubations that caused AO-13 to go sub-orbital after eight
years, and use that to actually plan an orbit where a spaceframe would
re-enter the atmosphere after, say 15 years of service.

I realize that this may only be useful for crafts in a highly
elliptical (Molniya) orbit, but such planning, if possible, would
eliminate the need for additional hardware and resulting payload
costs.

I would be interested in hearing if such a thing could be accurately
enough planned without excessive risk to the expected operational
lifetime of a spacecraft to be seriously considered?

73, Jeff--KE9V
-- 
"The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on
it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the
universe to do." -Galileo
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