Broadcast 1478 (Special Edition)

16 Dec 2010 Dr. Brian Weeden
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Guest: Brian Weeden. Topics: Space debris and space traffic management. Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and rate this program on the new Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. We welcomed Brian Weeden back to The Space Show to discuss the latest on space debris mitigation and space traffic management. We started by Brian describing the current space debris situation and why its a mounting problem. He talked about the need to move objects in space away from potential collisions, including the ISS, and relatively new efforts by the Air Force in tracking as much of the debris as possible and notifying owners of possible collisions by using conjunction assessments.. He explained how this was done and the probability factor in reporting it. Brian introduced us to the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) and what it does. For more information on this, visit their website at www.iadc-online.org/index.cgi. We learned that there was a significant effort underway to engage China in space debris discussions and actions which is why the 2010 Beijing Orbital Debris Mitigation Workshop was held in China. Toward the end of this segment, we started taking questions and Greg inquired about salvaging boosters and dead satellites as a commercial venture. This sparked a discussion on the absence of space salvage law, ownership liability under the UN treaties, and other complicating issues pertaining to what Greg was asking about. In the second long segment, we began by discussing space tethers as a mitigation tool. Also discussed were space lasers as well as other possible methods for dealing with the debris problem. As you will hear, dealing with the smaller debris is very different from dealing with the large debris. Cost estimates for debris removal as well as time lines were discussed. So were the NASA and DARPA efforts in this area. The subject of a recent Rand Institute report on the issue calling for a superfund to be created to pay for and mitigate the debris was the subject of much discussion. You can read about this superfund idea at www.space.com/news/space-junk-threat-superfund-sites-101214.html. Later in this segment, we talked about GEO allocation slots and the process, then a listener asked about the Air Force training program for their airmen to work in this area. Brian explained qualitative training and how its done. Near the end of the program, a listener referenced a Classroom program regarding space traffic management and docking at an orbital propellant depot. Brian had much to say about this so don't miss the discussion. In summarizing, he suggested the next step in the process would be debris mitigation demo flights and he thought that might happen within 5 years. If you have comments or questions for Brian Weeden, please post them on The Space Show blog at the URL above. You can also email Brian at bweeden@swfound.org.

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