You must log in or register to comment.

Tired8281 t1_j1rz73u wrote

He seems cool, but tell me more about the missing satellite.


mtechgroup t1_j1rzxml wrote

Now find the one that was mysteriously lost after SpaceX deployed it a couple of years ago.


bubblesculptor t1_j1s46i9 wrote

His twitter is interesting, posts lots of signal visualizations, images etc that he observes from his home satellite dishes etc. Lots of the older satellites have unencrypted transmissions that can be picked up & interpreted.


CreepyValuable t1_j1s48e1 wrote

Is this the one that was lost because the U. S. was using freedom units and everyone else was using metric?


LogicalExtension t1_j1s4aqd wrote

Lost as in "lost contact", not like they dropped it down the back of the couch and couldn't find it.

Equipment fails, so it's fairly normal.

e: Also, as for the price -- well more than a million, try about $132 million. "Costs for IMAGE are estimated at US$132 million, including the spacecraft, instruments, launch vehicle, and ground operations."


WorldsBestArtist t1_j1s6832 wrote

Isn't that the one that people say wasn't really lost, but rather the US military wants other nations to believe it's lost? I seem to recall SpaceX disputing that it was ever lost, and then the story just mysteriously disappeared from major news outlets.


2wheels30 t1_j1sd4ij wrote

Most of his wealth came from ownership in Tesla and the massive rise in share price, not from a lost SpaceX satellite. Now he did utilize a ton of government grant money and government backed loans (ultimately forgiven) to get Tesla off the ground, and you could say that his manipulation of the market around Tesla (and other things) was wrong, but this satellite is small potatoes.


darkwalrus25 t1_j1sdbdd wrote

Northrop Grumman designed and built the satellite and purchased and tested the payload adapter (that was the likely point of failure) and charged the billions of dollars. All SpaceX did was launch it, and they claim the rocket performed how it should have.


LogicalExtension t1_j1sided wrote

The "I'm not a satellite engineer, I don't even play one on TV" explanation is:

Most satellites get their power from solar panels. Depending on their orbit, they might be in earth's shadow for part of their orbit. During that time, they'll need to run off batteries. Batteries have a limited capacity, and their capacity degrades over time. You design the satellite to only have the amount of capacity you think you'll need, and a little extra margin.

Satellites have management computers, with various levels of self-monitoring/recovery. Normally if something goes wrong, the self-monitoring will be able to detect this, and either "reboot" automatically, or go into a recovery mode where the ground-team can send up commands to diagnose and reprogram it.

However something went really wrong with this satellite and that system wasn't working.

The significance of the eclipse is that this would be a longer time the satellite was in shadow, and so the batteries might run down to the point where the satellite switches off entirely. Then, when the satellite is back out of the earth's shadow, the satellite will switch back on when it gets power back.

This would, hopefully, make the onboard computers go into a recovery mode, allowing that diagnostics/reprogramming.

It's sort of an extreme version of "Have you tried turning it off and back on again?".


Commies4Lyfe t1_j1sif4f wrote

Genuine question. Do NASA just give really poor life expectancies to their stuff? I feel like I always see that they say something eill only last for so long, bit then it just carries on.


skucera t1_j1sjzx0 wrote

It’s a worst-case scenario estimate. If the worst-case scenario still justifies the cost, then the project is worth moving forward with trying to get prioritized into the budget. Of course, they buy the absolute best (highest-reliability) gear, and have some of the most sophisticated failure analysis and prevention tools in the world, which contributes to extended longevity.

Basically, it’s better to under-promise and over-deliver, especially when you’re the part of the government that has to really struggle for funding.


coriolis7 t1_j1skhk9 wrote

They design everything to have an extremely high chance of surviving the mission life at full operational capability. If they design each system to have a 50% chance of surviving 2 years, and there are 5 systems, then there’s only a 3% chance the mission will actually make it to 2 years.

Even then, if NASA wants 2 full years, then they’ll shoot for a high likelihood of meeting it, like 95+%. That means there’s a decent chance it’ll make it well past 2 years.


Shabbona1 t1_j1sl445 wrote

So 1) space is super hostile. Not an ideal environment to operate anything in.

  1. everything eventually needs maintenance and it's basically impossible to perform maintenance on satellites so think how long a complex device would function on earth without anybody touching it ever again.

Both of the above lead to 3) they engineer the living shit out of those things, and damn near everything has a "safety factor." Which, in short, means they take whatever they think the operating threshold is for a component and divide it by 2 at the very least when doing their math on what they think the component can withstand for any given attribute. This is a common thing in almost every product developed. Ever see a ladder that says rated for 250 lbs? Odds are it won't fail until you put 500-750lbs on it. But nobody says that number because you can't guarantee it won't fail just before 500 and you don't want a user to find out, so you say 250lbs.

What this means is NASA guarantees the satellite will run for 2 years, but it will likely run for longer than that. Plus, every good engineer operates under the rule of "under promise, over deliver." Tell your superiors it will definitely last for 2yrs, engineer it with safety factors to guarantee 2 years, and then over deliver when it ends up lasting for 2.5, or 3, or in this case, 5.


11thDimensionalRandy t1_j1sl5n5 wrote

They generally give lower end estimates.

If you followed along the JWST launch, it was often said that it went so well that it extended the length of the mission, but ehat happened is that the Ariane rocket performed perfectly within instead of its expected capabilities and no fuel had to be wasted on correcting mistakes, leaving more fuel for the satellite to make the adjustments required to remain fully operational at L2.

NASA suffers from a lot of restrictions, and failures are valued a lot more than successes, so rather than claiming the JWST can operate for 20 years, having something happen to cut that number down to 15 years and dooming the agency after a huge project underdelivered, they work with lower expectations.


Talonczar t1_j1sordz wrote

Some factors that cause normal wear and tear can be mapped out and predicted and are well established in the world of engineering. Things like thermal stresses, temperature cycling, battery charge cycles, etc.

One of the big challenges with space is that there is a bunch of stuff whizzing around that really can't be predicted for, and could cause major damage, or significant damage to localized areas. This would be things like space debris that's below the scale that nasa tracks, or that doesn't return radar signatures. Cosmic rays are like atom sized rail gun slugs that can cause serious damage to electrical systems and circuitry. For stuff like this, you have to work off what you know, and the outliers can be way off a normal distribution curve that you would expect for projected lifespan.


ds15 t1_j1sp2uy wrote

An amateur radio astronomer also found LES1, which would be an absolute highlight of my life to pick up live but my gears not quite there yet.


2wheels30 t1_j1sqawx wrote

My bad, I thought some of the title 17 loans were forgiven. I'm happy for any group that is eligible to use them. Rather that money go towards clean(er) tech than our inflated defense budget.


TheDorkNite1 t1_j1sr2pg wrote

>Do NASA just give really poor life expectancies to their stuff?

It's fascinating to see how long some of their projects go past their dates. Opportunity rover lasted more than 14 years when it was planned for only 3 months.

Right now on Mars the little Ingenuity chopper is still kicking more than a year past its goals of 5 flights.


kc2syk t1_j1sxli5 wrote

If anyone is interested in listening to satellites and transmitting to amateur satellites, check out /r/amateursatellites and /r/amateurradio.


sigmund14 t1_j1t0dbk wrote

I wish everyone would do the same as NASA. It wouldn't really be profitable, but the brand loyalty would be through the roof.

Instead, we have planned obsolescence - deliberate failure of some component that is impossible to replace / repair. Creating trash just for profits.


EdwardOfGreene t1_j1t1knz wrote

Fuck! Now I have to move. I was happy here, but knowing this I will never again be content with 16 oz pints.

Looking into where I can find half assed affordable housing. Maybe Wales.


boredcircuits t1_j1t2mx2 wrote

It's not a "life expectancy." A better term is "minimum requirement." Basically, they tell the contractors that everything needs to last at least X years, and everything is designed around that. Fuel tanks, redundancies, etc.

Compare this to a consumer device, where the specifications might have an average life requirement. For example, a phone manufacturer might specify a battery that degrades 20% after 400 charge cycles. What they care about is the average: some will live longer than that, and some will be less. That's ok because they'll just warrantee the bad batteries.

But you usually can't just say "oops, sorry" and replace a faulty battery in something that goes to space. (Hubble's mirror being the notable exception.) So NASA requires everything to satisfy the minimum mission requirements. We shouldn't be surprised when something outlives the minimum, really.

Also, NASA has a knack for extending missions as hardware fails. Finding unplanned uses for mostly-operational hardware. Look up Kepler for a great example.


Fernelz t1_j1t2ngg wrote

They're built to last and with high quality.

The 2 years of mission time just means a 99% chance to be fully functional for the full 2 years. After that it's just a matter of individual parts failing until full contact loss. So after 2 years it can still do everything it could at launch but at year 4 it's still doing some stuff just maybe not everything.

The whole 2 year but really 5 year thing is also very helpful for funding. It looks good if they can say "yeah the last mission you paid for was a 2 year mission that lasted 5"

PS: this is just my understanding of it, please correct me if I'm wrong


za419 t1_j1t4kek wrote

NASA gives minimum lifespans, not averages or expectations.

In other words, when NASA says "the rover will last 90 days", they mean "the rover will last no less than 90 days".

Consequently, everything should at least hit that lifespan. If it doesn't, something fucked up and the mission failed. That also means that those 90 days is the time NASA wants the spacecraft to last to consider launching it to have been worthwhile.


caitejane310 t1_j1t9anf wrote

Yeah, idk why I was surprised at all the little tests that us common folk wouldn't even think of. I recently watched Good Night Oppy (highly recommend) and thought it was pretty neat how they would replicate the conditions the rovers were in so they could try and figure out how to get them unstuck.


whiskysinger t1_j1tatp4 wrote

A UK pint is 568ml A US pint is 473ml

The UK conversion rate of casual language to real pints is not as well understood, despite years of research.

"A swift half" = at least 2 pints "A couple of pints" = at least 6 pints + 1 kebab


4tune8SonOfLiberty t1_j1tbqlg wrote

It's worth noting that of the half dozen listed zombie satellites, and of the three that have come back to life in the modern era, Scott Tilley is credited with having found two of them.

He keeps this up, he's gonna get a wikipedia page of his own!


Shawnj2 t1_j1tbsdv wrote

Oh yeah that I think it’s hilarious that people think it’s more likely for it to be a coverup than for Northrop Grumman to be incompetent at designing the fairing adapter

Detecting things in orbit is trivially easy using a camera if you know the possible trajectories for an orbit for a rocket launched at a given launch site in a general direction.


Shawnj2 t1_j1tc4z4 wrote

Elon actually provided the launch for a reasonably good price. If you went to any other launch provider, you would have gotten a quote over 2x the price of a SpaceX launch. SpaceX has its flaws, like poor working hours, but the price to put things in orbit has gone down massively because of them, not the other way around. It’s the least bad of Elon’s companies by a long shot.


blueshirt21 t1_j1tca8k wrote

Yes, SpaceX lofted Zuma properly into the agreed upon orbit, and then the satellite likely failed to separate from the payload adaptor provided by Northrop. The satellite should have had it's orbit decay without the satellite being able to finish adjusting it's orbit and would have burnt up.

However, it is a perfect cover story for a satellite the NRO doesn't want people to know about-but Zuma should have been trackable and nobody found it, unless NRO has some super space stealth


Kevimaster t1_j1tfjcs wrote

Under promise and over deliver.

NASA gets huge amounts of public scrutiny whenever anything goes wrong. "$132 million spacecraft breaks 5 years into a 6 year mission" isn't the kind of headline they want. "Spacecraft that was only supposed to last 2 years lasted for 5 years" is the kind of headline they want.


keastes t1_j1tiggu wrote

For good reason, NASA likes to overengineer and make pessimistic estimates. Just look at the service life's of Opportunity, Pathfinder, the fact that Apollo 13 made it back...

Ground side we have the luxury of writing the safety regs in blood.


Shyssiryxius t1_j1tlb2l wrote

It's not just the design life but usually the life of the project itself. When you hear that the Curiosity rover was designed to last 6 months that's the amount of time they essentially budgeted for for the project including wages for the teams that operate the hardware. Obviously by the time the rover arrives 18 months later the person doing the NASA budget can then ask for more money to expand the project timeframe, and as long as the hardware continues to function this generally happens YoY.


YourLocal_FBI_Agent t1_j1tph98 wrote

From a quick google search, just copypasting the top result so don't at me on the accuracy plz.

"According to the Index of Objects Launched into Outer Space, maintained by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), there are 8261 individual satellites orbiting the Earth."


Mr_Zaroc t1_j1tqq1q wrote

"Well I put it in an circular orbit around earth, but someone must have put them somewhere else"
"Oh not that old story again, I told you I am not touching your satellites. Its yoir fault if you just leave them in Orbit"


IkiOLoj t1_j1tr48l wrote

That's the luxury of not being a for profit organization, they don't have to take a benefit somewhere so they can invest the whole budget in the product. If you were making a product expected to work for 2 years lasting 5, you'd probably be screwing your shareholders somewhere as you would be wasting their potential dividends.


btribble t1_j1tsz9u wrote

Yes, when you can set conservative goals and then over-deliver it always looks good. If you're not under promising and over delivering at your work, you're doing it wrong.


2nd-penalty t1_j1tv56z wrote

How tf do you even lose a satellite? I know space is big n all but this is ridiculous, did they just forgot about it?


EpiicPenguin t1_j1tyvq8 wrote

> and have some of the most sophisticated failure analysis and prevention tools in the world, which contributes to extended longevity.

Which is why it still boggles my mind that they didn’t add a brush tool to clean off the solar panels on insight lander. They were literally willing to drop rocks on the panels durring the mission, but adding a 5$ brush to the arm thats already on the billion dollar martian lander, apparently thats not an option.


Mmmblop69420 t1_j1tzj7j wrote

Are you for real because I'm in stiches. I had no idea donairs were a unit of the Imperial Magestry. There's kinda something beautiful about the casual approach to measurement that we've abandoned.


Mmmblop69420 t1_j1tzye3 wrote

If I can play devils advocate, because I fucking love space and our 13.8Byo collective history lesson, buuuuut: when you say "least bad," that comes with the assumption that putting stuff in orbit for cheaps is a net-good thing.

Is it?


RG3akaAndre3000 t1_j1u41z0 wrote

Space Vehicles and programs are usually assessed and given a “Probability of Success”. NASA usually doesn’t launch anything without a Ps of 95%.

So if NASA has a program that is supposed to have a 2 year mission life, they would launch only when they have a design that has a 95% probability of success. Well if the spacecraft has a 95% chance of lasting 2 years, it’s not like it’s gonna crap out on 2 years and 1 day. It’s got a pretty good chance to keep going.


kinboyatuwo t1_j1u8shf wrote

Or just ensure stuff is serviceable. I would take that.

I had a vacuum a few years ago and the brush head failed at the bearing and tore it and the plastic connector apart.

I couldn’t find a replacement head (had ordered 3 that were listed as correct and none fit) and the plastic part I had to “make” by filling with epoxy and using a dremmel to make the recess.

3D printing helps, we just need better ways to get the shapes into the system now. But we need a requirement for a parts availability for day 10 years or the company has to give you a new one.


MeagoDK t1_j1uba36 wrote

Sometimes the replacement cost as much as a new machine. Had to replace the rack in my dishwasher (it was rusten) ended up buying a new dishwasher as it was not that much more.


MeagoDK t1_j1ubh2b wrote

In this case nasa just screws the senators because the budget was for 2 years, not 5 years. So they need money for 3 more years.

NASA absolutely have shareholders, they are just government officials and they play politics with them to get their budget and project approvals


ds15 t1_j1ucg70 wrote

Zombie satellites are craft in orbit that stop functioning for many different reasons that can come back to minimal life for short or longer periods of time. LES1 launched in 1965 was lost and considered dead. It was found because some sort of short circuit was able to wake the beacon when it gets enough sun in it's tumbling orbit. Since it's not enough energy to fully function added to the abnormal orbit, it sends back a weak moaning signal. Sorry, this was my first ELI5. Edit: a word.


ExaminationBig6909 t1_j1uldm5 wrote

It's not arbitrary, exactly. The Karman line is a theoretical point at which the atmosphere is so thin that you won't get lift from a wing. So it's a point where airplanes cannot reach.

(Also, the original calculation was for 80 km, which is used by the USAF for the boundary of space.)


kinboyatuwo t1_j1unwls wrote

Ya it’s crazy. We need more supply chain but also salvage. I’ll bet someone not far away had a failed one and tossed it that had a rack that was fine.

Only way it will happen is legislation sadly.

I would pay extra to know parts are available ans affordable for 20y.


nickh84 t1_j1uodyx wrote

Its 100% arbitrary. It's a nice round number. Density is variable and 99.99% of planes r not capable of flying anywhere close to that altitude. And even above that altitude the atmosphere can produce significant drag on space craft.


skucera t1_j1uovax wrote

You perform a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA). Once you know the failure modes that you can’t design out of the system, you design mitigation for the rest. You then add redundancy for those modes you can’t mitigate. Finally, you take the probability of an individual critical failure happening and calculate the duration before there is X% chance that a critical failure has occurred, and that’s your planned mission length. If it’s too short, you put in more mitigation or redundancy.


skucera t1_j1up8d7 wrote

Also, The Martian was accurate in how they have an exact copy of every rover and lander they send out so that they can try out fixes/solutions on Earth before they send them out.


MeagoDK t1_j1uua3c wrote

Insight was:(approx)

  • Spacecraft 600 million.
  • Launch ticket 160 million.
  • 2 years operation 60 million.

If we assume insight will last:

  • 10 years, that's 300 million, 30% of total budget
  • 15 years, that's 450 million, 37% of total budget
  • 20 years, that's 600 million, 44% of total budget

A 820 million budget is much easier to approve than 1360 million budget

It's not pennies, you are simply wrong.


Pharisaeus t1_j1uui4d wrote

It was not "lost" in terms of unknown location, but in terms of loss of communication due to a comm system failure. It came back online many years later, thanks to hard-reset caused by deep discharge of batteries when it when in Earth's shadow long enough. At this point no-one was trying to communicate with it any more, and amateur astronomer accidentally picked up the signal.


MeagoDK t1_j1uvbld wrote

Yup a thing they would improve it would be to have very standard hardware interfaces. If a rack would always fit then you can easily start saving used but good racks when someone throws out a rack and it would be much to find the broken part.


xubax t1_j1uvxua wrote

I found something interesting.

So let me tell you about my day job.


JollyHockeysticks t1_j1uxksz wrote

A million dollars is a low-ball. Anything can happen in space that could randomly cause it to go offline, and without any electronic systems you're never gonna keep track of something that can rotate around the planet in as little at 90 minutes.


Shawnj2 t1_j1uzp9d wrote

Mostly. There are some downsides, like I increased emissions from more launches, a risk of Kessler syndrome happening (this is mostly overblown unless two satellites hit each other and even then that will just increase the price temporarily as less LEO orbits are available) but IMO things like Starlink/swarm are a net benefit for humanity (while Musk isn’t being a jackass and trying to stop Ukrainian people from using it) because it’s incredibly useful to people in rural areas who would otherwise never have good internet, and there’s other benefits like being able to restock the ISS/send new crew/send new scientific missions into space for cheaper, which means NASA and other space agencies can stretch their thin budgets a bit more. The biggest real downside is probably increased carbon emissions from more launches, which sucks but rockets are also an incredibly tiny contributor to global warming and the physics involved make it difficult to use non fossil fuel sources other than hydrogen produced from electrolysis, and also to a lesser extent mad astronomers since more satellites = less of the night sky being visible and more artificial star looking things they need to filter out.


LogicalExtension t1_j1wbobo wrote

Again, lost contact. The exciting bit was that they started hearing from it again.

NASA only has so much capacity to talk to different space missions. The Deep Space Network system is in high demand, and they won't waste time trying to reach out to dead systems.

For instance, say tomorrow that Spirit or Opportunity Mars rovers started back up and were trying to phone home. Nobody is listening for them. They're 'lost' missions.

If, however, someone noticed this extra signal coming from Mars then there would be a whole lot of super excited people. You'd see more 'Lost Mars rovers found again' headlines.


Mmmblop69420 t1_j1wmuvx wrote

I agree with every point you make. They are logistical efficiencies. I guess my question was leaning more into why we need and want space colonialism to be cheap.

The star point for instance, where everyone in the world can eventually have cheap access to internet. Isn't that also giving data mining access to more low cost resources? I hate to be pessimistic, but I don't love how we're currently utilizing the power of internet.

If we can't handle our shit at home, why should we affordably be able to throw more trash into space? Hasn't the scarcity been somewhat of a blessing until now?

I dunno, thanks for letting me get that off my chest if anything.


nickh84 t1_j1xgwfh wrote

your definition can be applied at 80km. Is there any objective difference when u pass from 99km to 100km? No, there isnt. The reason 100km was used is because its a nice round number, thats purely it. It's not because planes cant fly that high, and the atmosphere extends well past 100km. The point is, its just an agreed upon number by an international group to use as a reference point and for legal reasons. Thats arbitrary. Now if u can define the precise difference between 99km and 100km, then its not arbitrary. Good luck with that tho


LogicalExtension t1_j1xhjkz wrote

Not communicate, just see that it was sending a signal that it wasn't before.

There's publicly accessible databases of all known satellites. You look up in a part of the sky and see a signal, you can look up what's in that orbit. For most, you can then find public information. If it's a satellite that's supposed to have died, and you're seeing a signal, well - that's interesting.


MeagoDK t1_j1xj8ug wrote

Even if you halve the operational cost, it's stil not pennies.

And yes off cause they do. That's the whole point. It's easier to approve incremental than all at once


smithsp86 t1_j1xndom wrote

It’s also a budget strategy thing. Using Spirit and Opportunity as examples. It’s much easier to stay within budget if they only put 90 days on paper. Once you have the hardware in place it becomes essentially automatic to get extra funding to keep operating. There’s just no sense placing the long term plan in the original proposal.


Used-Towel5687 t1_j1xz92j wrote

Insufferably accurate… if only we were born on a planet that isn’t trying to destroy one another every 50 years…. It’s a really great topic to talk about, as the more knowledgeable the general public is, the more information spreads, that everybody IS actually trying to live in harmony…. Nope, nukes.