New megaconstellation may cause ‘catastrophic collisions’


In response to a request from a United States company, AST, to build a megaconstellation of satellites and place them at an altitude of 720 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, NASA, for the first time, has publicly positioned itself on this type of marketing initiative and raised concerns about “catastrophic” space collisions.

In a note, the agency states that the objective of the action is, in addition to clarifying the reason for so much fear, guaranteeing benefits to all those involved.

The order, which is under analysis by the US Federal Communications Commission, involves the launch of more than 240 robust satellites to be used to offer 4G and 5G connections, and the company has already raised about US $ 120 million to place your plans into practice.

However, according to NASA, the proposed altitude for the SpaceMobile to operate (name of the constellation) is close to that of 10 other equipment operated by both it and the US Geological Survey and partners in France and Japan, which make up the A-Train.

“Historical experience with the A-Train has shown that this particular region of space tends to produce a high number of conjunctions between space objects”, indicates the agency, adding that, in planning possible conjunctions with other satellites and debris in this orbit, it would be the definition of “a ‘rigid body radius’ of 30 meters, or up to 10 times greater than that of other satellites, is required.”

Exhausting process

Due to the large size of the proposed equipment (900 square meters), it would be necessary to coordinate, for A-Train, at least 1,500 mitigation actions per year and 15,000 planning activities, a process defined as “exhausting” by NASA . In addition, objects of this proportion have not, until today, been tested by AST, and the lack of experience can make at least 10% of them susceptible to failures, which would prevent their controls.

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AST, for its part, stated that it will work with the space agency to alleviate doubts: “We have revised the NASA letter and we are confident that we can work with them to resolve their concerns, including clarifying the AST constellation project that it manages. robustly orbital debris, keeping NASA and other orbital assets safe, “said Raymond Sedwick, the company’s chief scientist.


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