Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Re-entry Backpacks

Take that, Pacific Ocean!
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Inspired by a news article on an errant backpack re-entering earth's atmosphere after several months in orbit (link), I thought it might be the basis for a novel business strategy.

Launch a spacecraft, with at least one paying customer, into low orbit. The customers each have a specially-designed backpack into which they stuff whatever items they want (within safe guidelines). The backpacks are lightweight and the shell is made of a highly RF-reflective material. The spacecraft has a robot arm, much like the space shuttle. The robot arm is programmed to hurl said backpacks down into earth's atmosphere on precisely-calculated trajectories, based on the mass of the backpacks, thereby minimising the hazard to other spacecraft. The reflective backpacks are easily tracked by ground sites. Whatever is in the backpacks gets vaporised in a few days/weeks.

With prior planning, you can "aim" your backpack at a specific geographic feature, country, city, person, whatever. While you may "throw" the backpack at that target, it won't "hit" it, so the "target" is completely safe. The robot arm makes bad throws unlikely. Spacewalking humans would not be allowed to throw any items due to the risk of adding to the space debris already in orbit.

The customer can track his/her backpacks via a website.

What is the cost, $1M for Nasa to launch one pound into orbit? Perhaps the X-prize (or N-prize) will lower that threshold one day.

Gamma48, Aug 04 2009

Space toolbag burns up http://www.space.co...l-bag-burns-up.html
the inspiration for the idea [Gamma48, Aug 04 2009]

I'd happily pay top dollar for an orbital backpack delivered... Near_20Earth_20Orbi...ation_20Corporation
...but these fellows may nick it first. [normzone, Aug 05 2009]


       [normzone], the idea inside your link would serve a very useful purpose. The only useful purpose behind my idea would me to work off some stress by chucking a harmless projectile at a perceived target.
Gamma48, Aug 06 2009


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