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Guest: Joe Carroll; Topics: Joe's Power Point slide presentation posted on our blog re LEO debris. Note the slides called out by Joe. Many related topics, Starship discussion topics, launching Starship near Singapore, debris liability concerns and much more.
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We welcomed Joe Carroll back to the show for this nearly two hour LEO space debris discussion. Be sure to open Joe's Power Point slide presentation which is on our blog as he referred to it and multiple slides many times during our nearly two our discussion. His PPT is titled "Do We Need Parking Fees and Bounties in Orbit." In starting the discussion, Joe said that we needed to do something about the debris problem which he then described plus he talked about the high cost of the problem and doing nothing. He then explained his idea for parking and bounty by those putting objects in LEO. Listen carefully as he explained his ideas during the early part of our discussion. Our guest initially called out Slide #10 and talked about the UN treaty on liability with liability for space objects resting with the launching country. Listen to how Joe idented the number of large LEO debris objects as well as how many were put there by the U.S., by Russia and by others. He went on to say that 60% of the LEO mass for debris was Russian. Joe said that a U.S.-Russian agreement for LEO space debris would address and cover the problem. Our guest continued talking about getting mass out of LEO. He then referred to his Slide 5 saying most mass consisted of large objects which he said there were around 3,000 of them. Joe talked about a solution using cubesats to nudge debris objects out of the way saying only 4mm/second velocity was needed for nudging. Don't miss all of this discussion, especially the focus on nudging.
In addition to the above, Joe commented on DARPA going back to 2009 but commented on how slow everyone has been to act. Once again, he repeated the need for better detection and then he suggested that the company Astroscale, when asked about their debris removal plans and tech, would evolve into orbital servicing, not debris removal. Listener Jack from Denver sent in an email asking Joe who would pay for all of these tracking or removal or parking fees. Don't miss how Joe responded as it might surprise you. When asked about the support for parking fees, he said it was brought up for the first time in 2009. Once again he said it would be essential to get into the cost of future debris issues and then he called up his Slide 9 for discussion. Marshall called to ask about liability if two items collide with an origin of different launching countries. Joe said it was a complex issue and not black and white. Listen to what he said about the unofficial rule regarding the object being worth less than one's satellite. Listener Alice then sent in a note asking about final authority, FAA or FCC. In replying, Joe referred to the Outer Space Treaty and the signatories to that treaty.
Robert called from Ohio to talk about a dead object in space and kill zones. Nudging came back up for discussion in terms of impulse used for the nudging. Joe said it would not be trivial. Timelines were mentioned but Joe just said they were unknown. Joe moved on and talked about chain reaction or cascade concerns. He addressed JSC concerns as compared to the concerns of other NASA centers. Fremont John called to ask about assessing fees and more. Better tracking would be needed and then Joe was asked about China and Russia. Don't miss his analysis on that topic. John brought up the announcement by Orbital Prime, talked about the Space Force and once again Astroscale was mentioned which Joe again suggesting it would morph into an orbital servicing company, not a debris mitigation company. John asked Joe if debris issues were ready for an advocacy movement such as March Storm. Joe thought that first there was a need to reduce costs but to do that we needed to accurately estimate the costs.
As we were moving toward the end of the program, Joe mentioned his guest commentary on David Brin's blog. I posted the link to it on the blog for this show plus Joe wants to return to TSS to discuss what he said on the Brin blog so check upcoming shows for Joe's return date. Joe then repeated his opinion that Starship would be for cislunar and would not be used to fly BLEO. Dr. Doug called to aske about Starship as a tool for getting rid of LEO debris. Joe was not supportive of the idea but do listen to all of what he said on the idea. Joe then reverted back to calling for the need to determine the debris cost. We took a final note from a listener asking about the FAA, EIR, Boca, and SpaceX concerns going on right now. Joe talked about the challenges for firing 29-33 engines, the noise issues and such. He thought going offshore would be good for launching Starship and suggested offshore near Singapore. I asked him about an approximate 9,000 mile supply line to such a launch site and he talked about towing a launching barge to such a location. Joe then referenced the Concorde SST model, we talked about the challenge flying supersonic over land. Joe offered a few concluding comments which you will want to hear.
Please post your comments/questions for Joe Carroll on our blog for this show. You can reach Joe through me or the address on his PPT slide presentation on the blog.