Collision Threat for Planned Satellite Constellation – NASA
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Collision Threat for Planned Satellite Constellation – NASA

NASA has shown serious concern regarding a planned and well-structured constellation of broadband-based satellites. They have mentioned that the particular commercial spacecraft is likely to have increased chances of a collision. This might occur on one of the most important slices of the orbit of our planet.

NASA has submitted an official report and a letter to the U.S Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about a request made by a company based in Texas AST & Science. They have expressed their wish to operate a network of about 243 satellites for 720 kilometers. This will be high above the surface of the Earth. Eric Berger from ‘Ars Technica’ elaborated more on this report.

This Space Mobile is designed to withhold the facility of an internet connection or broadband and it will convey signals directly to smartphones. If everything happens as par with the plan of the company, it will be a huge success, as estimated.

How will the satellite function?

To operate this without any hindrance, the satellites will have antennas attached to them, which will almost cover an area of 9700 square feet. These satellites will have bigger cross-sections to boost the probability of close flybys or conjunctions with similar models of spacecraft. In the neck of the orbital woods, the chance of this happening is high.

In the bright night sky with constellation and Perseid meteor shower

However, the orbital region is always an area of focus for the space agencies since it has the ‘A-train’. This an observation mission for the Earth, a group of 10 plans that NASA operates. Its altitude is 438 miles.

On the other hand, the satellite can travel 429 miles close to the planet Earth. This implies that the AST constellation with a location close to the A-train. Hence, they are hesitant to allow this proposed attitude for movement. The letter got signed by Samantha Fonder, who is a representative of the Commercial Space Transportation Interagency Group at NASA.

They have recommended AST& Science to reconsider their orbital regime for their constellation so that they can maintain more safety and reduce risks. This was also done so that they are saved from a collision with the debris.

AST & Science, however, mention that they are taking all the necessary precautions so there won’t be any risk of an accident. Their calculations state that the estimated chances of collision are 1 in 5000, without undertaking any action for mitigation over operations.

While they are yet to launch any satellite in the orbit, they are structuring a prototype of their Space Mobile spacecraft. They will launch it in the year 2021.