Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rock me gently, rock me slowly - Part 4

For the Sun-Earth Lagrangian system the distance from the Earth to L1 is approximately 1.5 million kilometers. This is about four times further than any manned flight, to date, has ever traveled. Thus currently, to be relatively economical, any space equipment maintenance or "manual readjustment" would require an orbit closer to that of Earth.

The ISS and the Hubble Space Telescope are some of the space vehicles that now utilize a "low Earth orbit" (LOE).

Objects orbiting in LOE can last a very long time. However, as a direct result of various factors, mostly due to friction created (most of the time referred to as drag), there is a requirement to periodically boost the artificial satellite to a higher orbit if the life of the project is to be extended. Otherwise, the item will eventually fall back to Earth. Unfortunately, all other man made objects tended to accumulate in LOE that "Space Junk" is now become a serious problem when considering manned flights.

I don't believe the musical group the Rolling Stones were thinking about floating space objects when they performed the opening lines to "mother's little helper".

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Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica