GEO debris (was: Re: Useless hypotheses)

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Sat Dec 22 2001 - 10:20:18 MST

Spike Jones wrote:
>>> Only seldom are solids used in upper stages. In addition to being
>> relatively crummy for specific impulse, it is difficult to ensure all
>> the exhaust products will re-enter. Solids are dirty: they leave
>> behind slag that we don't want to have in orbit. Even in a
>> suborbital application, if a solid motor is firing and something
>> goes wrong with the guidance system causing the back end to
>> flip around forward, a bunch of phlogiston and junk is sprayed
>> into orbit that could damage other satellites.

That stuff can remain in orbit for a long time too. (years and decades)

Some space agencies use solid rocket boosters more than other agencies.
I'm not sure which agency uses which but we can tell from our dust/debris
data when a satellite boost with a solid rocket boost occured: ESA/Our
dust detector on the GORID satellite in GEO often detects large
increases in debris particles right after an ESA (? or NASA?) boost
(I'll check).


Amara Graps, PhD | Max-Planck-Institut fuer Kernphysik
Heidelberg Cosmic Dust Group | Saupfercheckweg 1
+49-6221-516-543 | 69117 Heidelberg, GERMANY *
"We came whirling out of Nothingness scattering stars like dust." --Rumi

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