Today building and launching your own satellite means creating a sophisticated piece of technology – and then hurling it into a room where you will never see it again. That said, if something breaks on the satellite, there isn't much you can do to fix the problem.
“As soon as you start a mission and leave the pad, it will never be touched again by human or robot hands. Jonathan Goff, President and CEO of Altius Space Machines, tells
The Verge . "That means that if something goes wrong and you can't fix it with a software update, you're out of luck. You can't do much."
"As soon as it leaves the pad, it will never be touched by human or robot hands again Touches satellites a little less petrifying for operators. Known as satellite maintenance, the business is about creating bots that can hit broken satellites in orbit to repair, replenish, or put into orbits where they are These bots can also be used as garbage disposal units. They can push dead satellites closer to Earth, where they are swallowed up by the atmosphere of our planet and find a fiery end. Our latest Verge science video examines what technologies are required for satellite maintenance and how it will work.
Such a service draws Satellite operators because a dead satellite has serious consequences. First, it's bad for the bottom line. In early 201
9, for example, DigitalGlobe's multi-million dollar WorldView-4 imaging satellite suffered an instrument failure in orbit and the satellite was no longer able to align properly. The loss was huge for the company. WorldView-4 had generated $ 85 million in revenue for the company in 2018, and the satellite was insured for a whopping $ 183 million. Besides, it just didn't look good.
“His reputation; Your shareholders might be nervous that one satellite failed, what about the other satellites in orbit? “Charity Weeden, Vice President of Global Space Policy at Astroscale, tells
The Verge . "So there is this nervousness for your company when something breaks in orbit. The insurers will ask:" What's going on here? "Do we have to pick up the note?"
Defective satellites can be dangerous.
Before But defective satellites can all be dangerous. If you can no longer operate your satellite, it immediately becomes space debris that flies around the earth at a speed of more than 27,000 km / h. And that's bad for everyone else. "The most terrible thing is that dead satellites cannot dodge, "says Goff." If you collect enough debris up there, the likelihood that a dead satellite will hit another dead satellite increases. "This prospect becomes even more scary when you consider that there are several Companies – including SpaceX, OneWeb and Amazon – plan to build massive constellations of satellites that transmit the Internet to Earth.
The Ä Satellite maintenance is just beginning. However, some demonstration missions will be launched this year to test the technology. If all goes well, satellites could one day experience an improvement when they reach orbit, which will help make the space environment cleaner and more sustainable.