“whatch your head!”

Look out below! A defunct satellite is falling back to Earth and is expected to reenter the atmosphere.

After UARS, come ROSAT, now is time for Phobos !

*”November 11 developments*

All efforts to contact Phobos-Grunt proved futile and the attention of the
press was quickly switching to the inevitable uncontrolled reentry of the
spacecraft into the Earth atmosphere, expected sometimes from the end of
November to the middle of December. NORAD reportedly projected the reentry
of the spacecraft on November 26.

According to known technical specifications of the Phobos-Grunt
mission, the 13-ton vehicle contains more than 10 tons of toxic propellants –
unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (fuel) and nitrogen tetroxide (oxidizer).
Although most of the fuel and oxidizer would burn during the initial phase
of reentry, the size and mass of the spacecraft practically guarantees that
surviving metal debris would reach the Earth surface. In addition, a
capsule for soil samples designed to survive a hard landing would be
reentering alongside the spacecraft. Due to its insulated design, the
capsule would likely be torn off from the rest of the vehicle early into
the reentry and its impact would likely take place away from the rest of
the debris along the reentry path. The crash could take place anywhere from
51.4 degrees North latitude to 51.4 degrees South latitude.”

source: http://www.russianspaceweb.com/phobos_grunt_launch.html#11_11

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Unsigned! (The Outer Space Treaty 1967)

UN treaty, unsigned by colombia

The Image above shows the regions of the plantet (grey color) where people will be free to own any satellite part or space weapon that by chance falls into their territory as stated on the Outer Space Treaty regulations. That was 1967 and Colombia did not signed the treaty. 9 years later, in 1976, Colombia hosted a summit where they came up with a new treaty known today as the Bogota Declaration. Both treaties seem to coincide on the grounds that declare the space and the moon as part of the commons of humanity. But the reality today of that range that sits just above earth’s near atmosphere is that it became filled by satellites that operate at Low Elevation Orbit (LEO), plus of course, thousands of cataloged parts flying at high speeds and also known as space debris. Is in such place that both treaties don’t coincide. In the name of the ‘commons‘ the Outer Space Treaty served to just allow powerful nations to conquer and control LEO, MEO (medium elevation) and GEO (geosynchronous) “territories”.

From wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty:
The Outer Space Treaty represents the basic legal framework of international space law. Among its principles, it bars States Parties to the Treaty from placing nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction in orbit of Earth, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or to otherwise station them in outer space. It exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes and expressly prohibits their use for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications (Art.IV). However, the Treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit. The treaty also states that the exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and shall be free for exploration and use by all States.

The treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, since they are the Common heritage of mankind. Art. II of the Treaty states that “outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means”. However, the State that launches a space object retains jurisdiction and control over that object. The State is also liable for damages caused by their space object and must avoid contaminating space and celestial bodies.

secrecy not an option


Chaotic space traffic needs rules, less secrecy: US general
by Staff Writers Washington (AFP) May 13, 2010

A top US general on Thursday called for international rules to control chaotic space traffic, warning satellites are increasingly at risk of collision.

General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was no longer possible for the United States and other countries to keep vast numbers of orbiting satellites a secret.

“We’re going to have get to some level of regulation. Nobody wants to do that,” Cartwright told a conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a US think tank.

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Debris Population

debris stats

Earlier this year (feb. 2009), 2 orbiting satellites collided prodicing a cloud of space debris highly dangerous particles that could spread the destruction wave to other spacecrafts.

There are about 20.000 objects tracked as space junk. One of the main problems with such debris is not that the fact that considers them as trash, but the potential danger of high speed orbiting objects that can destroy by precious and expensive equipment owned by private or military enterprises. This report from SpaceReview worths a read, follow the link below the image.

Via: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1417/1

See this video simulation of the crash debris orbiting the planet