Tagged: Low Earth orbit

Possible inter-satellite collision on Friday - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Oct 14, 2020

Two objects in low-Earth orbit may collide with each other on Friday, in a hyper-velocity impact which would lead to millions of fragments being left on-orbit, each potentially-lethal to functioning satellites. Fingers crossed (not that I am superstitious) that it is a miss, rather than a hit. One local media article is available here. Above I wrote ‘objects’ because … Read More

New launch of 60 SpaceX satellites crossing NZ - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Feb 22, 2020

Last Monday SpaceX launched another clutch of Starlink satellites into low-Earth orbit, bringing up to 300 the number of these units intended to bring 5G internet to the whole globe. In this post I present a movie showing how all 300 such satellites will be zipping around our planet over the next eight days (until the end of the month), … Read More

Earth’s artificial rings - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Nov 20, 2019

Satellites pass over NZ all the time (literally). Here I focus on the 187 Planet Labs ‘Dove’ Earth-imaging satellites, and I show that one can determine in advance where they will be, enabling scientists on the ground to correlate their environmental and other data collection with opportunities to get imaging from space. That is, we can get ‘space-truth’ (rather than … Read More

India a major player in Earth observation satellites - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Oct 15, 2019

While many imagine that countries like the USA and Europe dominate space activities, in fact India is now a major player on this stage. It launches satellites for its own purposes and also commercially, and has constellations orbiting our planet and returning data of vital importance to that nation in many ways.  Yesterday I was really pleased to give a … Read More

Tracking satellites launched from NZ - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Jun 27, 2019

With so many thousand satellites now in orbit, and tens of thousands of other tracked items, one might think that it is difficult keeping tabs on them, simply as an interested person. In fact it is quite straightforward, with long lists of orbital elements freely available for all except the few satellites deemed by the US Government to require secrecy, … Read More

Talking satellites and space in Washington - Out of Space

Duncan Steel May 16, 2019

The annual beanfeast for the US satellite industry — featuring major participation from European nations and companies in particular — is the SATELLITE congress held at the Washington Convention Center, a few blocks from the White House. It was an amazing event to attend, compared to the sort of low-key conferences we have in New Zealand.  Now I’m back in … Read More

Orbit of the newly-launched R3D2 satellite - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Apr 02, 2019

Last Friday Rocket Lab successfully launched another satellite from the Mahia Peninsula. In this post I describe the satellite’s orbital path, and how it will slowly vary in time over the next week.  Rocket Lab successfully launched another satellite into orbit from the Mahia Peninsula soon after midday last Friday (March 29th), a wonderful achievement. Well done to … Read More

Space Station and docked Dragon capsule visible throughout NZ - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Mar 04, 2019

As I write, the Dragon capsule – a spacecraft intended to loft US astronauts into orbit – has been docked with the Space Station for almost 18 hours on its initial test flight. It happens that you will be able to see the station plus capsule passing over New Zealand each evening for the next week or so, before the … Read More

Space War and NZ’s Position - Out of Space

Duncan Steel Jan 09, 2019

With regard to tracking military satellites newly-launched from eastern Asia and potentially of concern to our allies, New Zealand’s geographical position is of huge (yet overlooked) significance.   Surely no-one could imagine that space-wise there is not a lot going on at present, with another probe just landed on Mars, three other spacecraft missions having encounters with asteroids, and … Read More

Orbital debris, the ISS, moon and sun - Open Parachute

Ken Perrott Apr 09, 2010

Here’s an animation showing the accumulation of debris in near earth orbit due to human activity since 1957. It does look very cluttered but remember the articles aren’t to scale. YouTube – Space debris over time. And where is all the junk coming from (click on image to get more detail – thanks to Michæl Paukner’s [...] … Read More