Future of Iridium constellation...?

From: Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Date: Tue Mar 14 2000 - 23:04:46 PST

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    The page regarding Iridium to which Geoff Chester drew our 
    attention has been updated somewhat as of March 14:
    Also, thanks to "Jeff" (Hunt?) who posted the following on 
    the newsgroup.  It's some information on a United Nations 
    site (Office of Outer Space Affairs) regarding, in the 
    context of "Steps Taken By Space Agencies For Reducing The 
    Growth Or Damage Potential Of Space Debris", what types of 
    plans were made for Iridium satellites:
    "A large company in the United States that is responsible 
    for development of the Iridium constellation of 66 small 
    communications satellites has included provisions for debris 
    mitigation in the very first phases of its programme. In the 
    original operations concept, the most important provision 
    was the de-orbiting of spent spacecraft.  ...  
    "The procedures for the operational phase of the Iridium 
    project include supporting software that will direct (under 
    specific conditions) the spacecraft to execute fuel-depleting 
    and perigee-lowering burns with whatever capability it can 
    use. The procedures emphasize the need for ailing spacecraft 
    to be taken out of the operational orbit and "safed" with 
    regard to explosion hazard. The operator of the Iridium 
    system has agreed to the de-orbiting philosophy, which can 
    occasionally result in de-orbiting perfectly healthy 
    spacecraft because the fuel remaining is only enough for 
    Ed Cannon - ecannon@mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA
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