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Tutorials & Challenges Feel free to publish your tutorials, challenges, & flight scenarios in this forum.

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Old 03-16-2012, 09:24 AM   #1
zinar7
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Default Space Debris Removal

I'm a new user to Orbiter and so far have had only a little experience with, in particular, the Shuttle and some of its features.

I'm attempting to use Orbiter for an education demonstration to develop a scenario for space debris removal whereby a spacecraft could chase/approach some 'debris' or an inoperative craft, collect it and then de-orbit. This is to make a challenge for school/college students to attempt to understand how debris removal might work.

So far the easiest case would potentially use a robot arm to grapple to craft and collect it within a payload bay, for which something like the Shuttle and robot arm could be adapted relatively easily (the Hubble retrieve case is in the base Orbiter system, but I've no experience so far with Orbiter editor so don't know how easily this would be to manipulate into what I need). Alternative solutions could be to chase the debris and 'swallow' it using the jaws of the payload bay, or some sort of tractor beam to attract the debris into the bay.

Does anything like this exist on the Orbiter forums (I did some searching, but didn't come across anything), or similar scenarios that could be adapted?
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Old 03-16-2012, 02:28 PM   #2
joertexas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zinar7 View Post
 Does anything like this exist on the Orbiter forums (I did some searching, but didn't come across anything), or similar scenarios that could be adapted?
I don't have access to Orbiter at the moment, but it does have a spacecraft (the name escapes me) that is designed to handle cargo and such in orbit.

As an aside, one of the major issues with orbital debris removal is that each object is in its own orbit, requiring the chasing spacecraft to match orbits to catch it. Then, to catch the next object, the spacecraft has to again change orbits to match that object's orbit. The problem lies in how much energy is required to change orbits each time. Simply put, it takes a *lot* of fuel to chase down these scattered bits of debris.

JR
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Old 03-16-2012, 02:40 PM   #3
Izack
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You can add a
URMS
to whichever vessel you like. A good specific vehicle might be one of Greg Burch's space transports or work pod.
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Old 03-17-2012, 09:40 AM   #4
zinar7
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Originally Posted by joertexas View Post
 The problem lies in how much energy is required to change orbits each time. Simply put, it takes a *lot* of fuel to chase down these scattered bits of debris.
Yeah, this is the main drag. The alternative is that we try and 'catch' debris that's in the same orbital plane but orbiting in the opposite direction but having a 'mouth' or some sort of grabber arm (that can catch objects at 14 km/s closing speed), neither of which is particularly fun for an Orbiter scenario.

I'd like to set up a challenge whereby perhaps the debris and craft are in crossing orbits (different inclination, or some inclination but different right ascension) and perhaps the user has to 'catch' the debris with some sort of arm, or scooped with a 'net' or the cargo bay. This would eliminate the need to 'chase' the debris and expend a lot of fuel.

It's meant to be fun in so far that the user has to move both the spacecraft (perhaps just re-orientating it a bit, not changing orbit) and the mechanism to collect the debris. At the same time, it's supposed to highlight the difficulties of doing this kind of debris removal, and how if you 'miss' it, you might not get another 'chance' until many orbits later.
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Old 03-28-2012, 03:40 AM   #5
Tommy
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Originally Posted by zinar7 View Post
 Yeah, this is the main drag. The alternative is that we try and 'catch' debris that's in the same orbital plane but orbiting in the opposite direction but having a 'mouth' or some sort of grabber arm (that can catch objects at 14 km/s closing speed), neither of which is particularly fun for an Orbiter scenario.

I'd like to set up a challenge whereby perhaps the debris and craft are in crossing orbits (different inclination, or some inclination but different right ascension) and perhaps the user has to 'catch' the debris with some sort of arm, or scooped with a 'net' or the cargo bay. This would eliminate the need to 'chase' the debris and expend a lot of fuel.

It's meant to be fun in so far that the user has to move both the spacecraft (perhaps just re-orientating it a bit, not changing orbit) and the mechanism to collect the debris. At the same time, it's supposed to highlight the difficulties of doing this kind of debris removal, and how if you 'miss' it, you might not get another 'chance' until many orbits later.
You do realize that objects traveling in the opposite direction will have a velocity differential of around 34,000 miles per hour? That the kinetic energy would be 980,000 joules PER GRAM?

At those velocities, even a penny would rip the arm (or net) clean off your vessel (probably causing catastrophic damage to the vessels hull integrity) - if it didn't simply vaporize itself (and the arm/net) on contact.

Even in orbits that are only 90 degrees apart the velocity differential is still around 25,000 mph.

I don't think you really grasp the immensity of the speeds involved - and the forces of inertial that result from those velocities.

If you want to teach kids about the difficulty of cleaning up space debris, you probably shouldn't be inventing fantasy tech that violates known laws of physics and will never exist. Instead, teach them how much time and fuel would be needed to catch each single object - and point out how much junk is up there. You could have them use a shuttle (or even an XR-2) to catch 10 pieces of junk to get an "average" time per piece - multiply by the amount of junk - and show them how many centuries it would take.
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:31 PM   #6
xx_mortekai_xx
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I like the new idea that was put out recently to puff out parts of the atmosphere to cause drag on multiple objects at once. They are proposing using essentially a gasoline fuel air bomb to push out atmo. It'll be interesting to see...

I wonder if this could be modeled in orbiter? Does orbiter simulate proper atmospheres, or is it more of an increasing drag with declining altitude type of thing?
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:50 PM   #7
orbekler
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I heard of a nice manga series: Planetes.
Its core is the space debris removal.
Planetes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Planetes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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