Hackaday Links: Christmas Eve Eve, 2018

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The entirety of Silicon Valley is predicated on the ability to ‘move fast and break laws’. Have an idea for a scooter startup? No problem, just throw a bunch of scooters on the curb, littering and e-waste laws be damned. Earlier this year, Swarm Technologies launched four rogue satellites on an Indian rocket. All commercial satellite launches by US companies are regulated by the FCC, and Swarm just decided not to tell the FCC. This was the first unauthorized satellite launch ever. Now, Swarm has been fined $900k. Now that we know the cost of launching unauthorized satellites, so if you’ve got a plan for a satellite startup, the cost for an unauthorized launch is a bit more than $200k per satellite. Be sure to put that in your budget.

Santa Claws! Liberty Games would like to donate to a charity this holiday season, but you can’t just write a check. That’s not fun. Instead, they connected a claw machine to the Internet, and anyone can play it. Setting up a webcam was easy enough, but they also had to move the claw and press the button over the Internet. A Raspberry Pi came to the rescue.

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, mankind’s first trip beyond Earth orbit. Now, using Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter data, NASA has reconstructed the famous ‘Earthrise’ photo taken by the crew. It’s in 4K, and we’re getting a great diagram of what pictures were taken when, through which window.

It’s that time of year again, and the 176th Air Defense Squadron is on high alert. This squadron, based out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska has the AWACS in the air, on patrol, just waiting for the inevitable. You can take a look at their progress here, and please be sure to keep our service members in your thoughts this holiday season.

Show off your sculpture skills with small bits of wire! Get the blowtorch out because copper work hardens! [Roger] can’t enter the Circuit Sculpture contest, but he did manage to give a body to one of the Tindie heads.

17 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: Christmas Eve Eve, 2018

    1. Space is big to the point where this likely won’t be a problem for many years. For instance, say you want a satellite in geostationary orbit and you want to maintain 5km distance between satellites. That’s a bit tight given satellites at that altitude are going at 3km/s but it could be done, that’s nearly 2 seconds between satellites and we recommend humans drive that close to one another on the motorway. Maintaining 5km distance you could fit 53,000 satellites in geostationary orbit.

      Apparently we currently have ~400 geosynchronous satellites though we allow more drift so could only fit ~1800.

        1. LEO also has the property of being self-clearing in a vastly shorter time span than higher orbits, so old junk doesn’t really accumulate. That only leaves you to worry about active or recently active birds, which is a huge help.

          Higher orbits theoretically can become a problem eventually, but there’s the inverse square law making the volume MUCH greater (space: famously very big) plus the fact that the higher an orbit is, the slower it is. There’s a fairly specific sweet spot (or bitter spot?) where long-term Kessler would have to happen.

          Also, a variable that isn’t discussed often is that back in Kessler’s day, our perception of how space development would progress was a lot different. We foresaw lots of manned (read: many many times larger and more complex, capable of generating thousands of times more debris) spacecraft in varied and higher orbits. But the microchip killed the space ship, so instead of a manned weather observation station placed at a higher intermediate orbit (Such things were really planned! Seems crazy now to have a weatherman actually be in space instead of on the ground with a satellite dish on the roof) you get a tiny robot. And we focused a lot more of our work in LEO skimming the atmosphere, where we’ve been trapped for the last century for better or worse.

          Imagine if every major news company had a literal branch office up in space where they coordinated their daily affairs. That’s the kind of future Kessler syndrome was really formulated for, back when we still had heady ambitions for a real presence in space. Kind of sad, really.

    2. Oh I imagine the effects of climate change will put a damper on our space launches long, long before Kessler syndrome becomes a realistic possibility. It’s actually super far-off right now. We’d need an order of magnitude more stuff up there to even come close to making it happen. But everyone watched the movie Gravity and read about how scientifically accurate it was (compared to Star Wars maybe, but they’re still outrageously cartoonish with their physics) so I guess we’re worried about Kessler for a little while.

      There needs to be a big-budget climate change movie that lures you in with the promise of leering at Sandra Bullock. That might be helpful.

  1. Interesting other than the radio spectrum that ground stations in the USA use.Turns out that’s the Bases of the FCC action. The FCC denied swarm the license. Rouge operators who act like they can do whtever they want, whou are those ruin things for everyone else. On one of the TAPR forums there was a discussion of constructing APRsats and packsats that would be smaller than these pf topic. I never understood how small until the use of .45″ OD COAX was rejected because that demision was too large.

  2. Elmendorf also has F22 squadrons. Trump should launch a strike against that red-suited commie bastard and end this xmas madness once and for all.

    Think about it. This Claus syndicate operates a commune where mostly people of various disabilities are indentured for labor in a freezing environment.

    1. F-22s probably don’t have enough range to reach North pole and go back. Besides, Santa is faster. Calculate what speed is needed to deliver billion presents to Earthlings taking the optimum route, in 12 hours.

      Long live Santa and the world Revolution!

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