Launch | Range safety and space debris

Space debris is a serious challenge, both for detection and mitigation.

The Breakthrough Starshot system is relatively well-suited for detection. Several laboratory measurements and research papers on this topic have been published over the last few years. A list could be accessed of all orbiting objects bigger than 10cm, which would be used to plan launch campaigns.

However, objects as small as a few centimeters could cause problems. For these objects it is also harder to predict their ephemeris (orbital position at specific times). It would therefore be necessary to develop a catalog of such small objects and ensure that they were not illuminated in such a way as to scatter illumination onto any active vehicle.

Standard approaches to range safety would also be observed: no fly zones and the active failsafe interlock perimeter detection system. The beamer would be shut down if any object were detected approaching the no fly zone.

Research:

Jun 03, 2016 14:56 michael.million@sky.com Posted on: Centauri Dreams

With a phased array it would be possible to fire individual lasers to slow down orbital debris and de-orbit them for financial gain, the lasers could also be used to power other satellites again for financial gain by illuminating their solar panels. It will require a precision tracking system to track these small projectiles though and the laser system (fewer active lasers) should be powerful enough to deflect them as they re-radiate heat and volitiles from there surfaces.

Aug 01, 2016 14:42 Breakthrough Initiatives Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

Jun 03, 2016 14:56 michael.million@sky.com Posted on: Centauri Dreams
"With a phased array it would be possible to fire individual lasers to slow down orbital debris and de-orbit them for financial gain, the lasers could also be used to power other satellites again for financial gain by illuminating their solar panels. It will require a precision tracking system to track these small projectiles though and the laser system (fewer active lasers) should be powerful enough to deflect them as they re-radiate heat and volitiles from there surfaces."

Excellent suggestion for auxiliary uses of the beamer.
See also: For space, we will use data from the tracking of space debris and human objects.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/news/orbital_debris.html
Note that this tracking is improving.

– Prof. Sasha Buchman, Breakthrough Initiatives

Apr 20, 2017 03:28 Peter Jaquiery Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

Placing the launching array on the moon provides a number of advantages (and obvious disadvantages):

1/ No atmosphere to mess with beam pointing and object tracking
2/ on the far side of the moon there is likely less concern over high power collimated energy sources
3/ there's lots of free sunlight
4/ sidereal rate is much low so launch windows can be longer (although less often)
5/ Radiative cooling is king (but convection really sucks)
6/ (almost) no space debris

Jul 15, 2017 03:50 Breakthrough Initiatives Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

RE:
Apr 20, 2017 03:28 Peter Jaquiery Posted on: Breakthrough Initiatives

Answer:
This is a good idea and worthy of consideration. A challenge is the near to medium term technical capabilities to deliver and build the proper infrastructure on the moon. One could also place it on the dark-side to clear earth from its trajectory.

- Pete Klupar, Breakthrough Starshot

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