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Deflection Disks

20?0 a trash odyssey. (this is probably the most naive thing I've posted since SlingshotSpace, so free grains of salt will be provided as needed)
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Space tourism is going to be big...right up until someone gets a 10 to 20,000 km/hr. lug-nut upside the head.
Problem is, nobody wants to foot the bill for cleanup and won't until there is a tragedy.
The budding orbit-hotel industry shouldn't have to clean up a mess they didn't make, yet they stand to make a tidy profit so it is in their best interests to ensure customer safety, but they are also required to show some of that profit within a fairly short amount of time.
Government industries can go much longer, (indefinitely in some cases), without turning a profit yet would stand to earn as much for their constituents as private enterprises will earn for their shareholders if they compete in the space tourism trade.
The governments responsible for the cleanup are known and the percentage of trash belonging to each should be fairly easy to determine. If the cleanup scheme worked so that the objects needed in space to cause trash orbits to degrade were built as modules which would eventually fit together to form a habitat, then the costs could be recouped.
Down the road, who knows, the percentage of costs incurred may even become percentage of surplus received.

To begin removing orbital trash I'm picturing large inflated hemispherical Kevlar deflectors which spin so as to keep the curved surface pointed toward the planet. Arranged in high Earth orbit and around existing satellites, any projectiles impacting at a tangent in-line with the disks spin will impart some of its momentum toward speeding the disk, slowing down the object while knocking it Earthward, hopefully colliding with others on the way.
Any object impacting the disk on a tangent opposite to its spin will lose significantly more momentum degrading its orbit even more quickly.
Impacts from all directions should basically equal out over time so thrusters would be needed on each disk to initiate spin and adjustable louvers to maintain spin by reflecting light from the sun.

As the orbit of each disk decays, more and more trash should be deflected Earthward.
The larger the number and size of the disks that are put into orbit the faster the clean up will be and the larger the eventual habitat when the modular pieces are finally assembled.

Stop that particle (sung to the stop that pigeon song). http://stardust.jpl...v/tech/whipple.html
Is't JPL just wonderful? [eight_nine_tortoise, Mar 16 2009]


       //any projectiles impacting ... knocking it Earthward//   

       blow a great bloody big hole in it, more likely.
neelandan, Mar 16 2009

       Could this also explain how planets get their rings?   

       I came up with an idea for inflatable deployment of solar arrays (when I worked in that sector). The problem is that the inflation gas leaks through any material in time and the item deflates and crumples, so [-] as it will not work.
eight_nine_tortoise, Mar 16 2009

       hmmm, ok, so inflated is no good. I forgot that the vacuum of space can prolly suck a golf ball through a garden hose.
So how about a geodesic design that unfolds and is open to the vacuum on the flat side of the disk, held in shape only by spin?

       The disks could also do double time as the framework for kilometer sized mylar solar deflectors to combat global warming.   

       There must be some material light enough to launch yet tough enough to only deform from impacts rather than the bloody big hole scenario.   

       I think this problem of incredibly fast impacts would be more of a problem in space outside of our earth's orbit. No, I stand corrected, it would probably be the same problem there, but concentrated at the front of the vehicle.   

       But the biggest problem for earth-orbital vehicles would be space junk, which, if it is in stabilized orbit at the same distance from earth, would likely not have a huge difference in velocity. If it did then it couldn't be in the same orbit, or at least that is how I understand it.   

       Now, in deep space, it would be a different matter - the chances of hitting something head on would be far far more likely than getting wallopped from the side. Therefore protection at the front of the vehicle would be important, not the sides. ( I am assuming tha tth espace vehicle is barelling along at a tremendous velocity).   

       The reason: think of a car driving in a rainstorm. And suppose the rain is blowing completely sideways. Well, if you parked the car, every drop of rain would hit the sides of the car, none the front. But as you begin to speed up, more and more of the raindrops hit the front instead of the side, till the point is reached at infinite speed where none of the sideways drops hits the side of the car - all just hit the front. In fact, at infinite speed, the car would hit every single drop instantly which would be located in a rectangular box projected forward from the car through the rainstorm. So as forward sped increases, the chances of a hit from the front increases, and the chance of a sideways hit decreases, allowing designers to protect/fortify just the front of the space vehicle.
marquisdenet, Mar 16 2009

       You could use the same stuff as [Link]. Watch out for non-local traffic as it may be moving faster than you think!
eight_nine_tortoise, Mar 16 2009


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