In the proposed Phoenix program, robotic arms and end effectors can decouple an antenna from its retired military communication satellite and reuse it in a new satellite, saving money, maintaining global coverage, and cleaning up space junk. (Source: DARPA)
@sbkenn: On the subject of plastic contamination in the oceans, Donovan Hohn's book Moby Duck is a fascinating read. He tried to track the journey of 28,800 bath toys that fell off a container ship. I highly recommend it.
I like your plug and play idea, Ralphy Boy. And if that fails, I'd opt for the duct tape. There are very few things duct tape won't fix -- except a leak in a swamp cooler hose, as I found out recently.
I didn't get to see the video yet (at work), but I am wondering how easy or hard it is for parts to be scavenged from one sat and then applied to another.
Even on sats of the same type there could be hardware and alignment issues. We make small changes to print packs all the time. I'd hate to see a bot going from one out of service sat to another searching for a hole/pin alignment match. Or filing out a hole to get a fit... ; )
Also, a lot of things might be potted in place, or otherwise hard to remove. Perhaps a tile knife, some outer space approved duct-tape, and a spool of bailing wire would be a handy addition to the tool box.
On the other hand, if it hasn't already happened... a plug and play, snap in place assembly line-one size fits all design regimen in the future could insure a high rate of retro-booting.
We made 100+ battery packs for a sat network some years back. They were all identical. If some of those are bricks, and other sats have been shut down for other reasons but the batteries might still be good... that might be a worthwhile swap depending on how the 2kg packs were installed.
Cute exercise in Gallilean relativity, but why did you add all those velocities as scalar quantities? Unless thye are all in the same direction, you need to add them vectorially. Still, what's the point? For the space junk problem what counts is the velocity of a piece ralative to a satellite with which it might collide.
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