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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:11PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the cloud-of-junk dept.

Orbital Use Fees Proposed As the Most Effective Way to Solve the Space Junk Problem:

The most effective way to solve the space junk problem, according to a new study, is not to capture debris or deorbit old satellites: it's an international agreement to charge operators "orbital-use fees" for every satellite put into orbit.

Orbital use fees would also increase the long-run value of the space industry, said economist Matthew Burgess, a CIRES Fellow and co-author of the new paper. By reducing future satellite and debris collision risk, an annual fee rising to about $235,000 per satellite would quadruple the value of the satellite industry by 2040, he and his colleagues concluded in a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Space is a common resource, but companies aren't accounting for the cost their satellites impose on other operators when they decide whether or not to launch," said Burgess, who is also an assistant professor in Environmental Studies and an affiliated faculty member in Economics at the University of Colorado Boulder. "We need a policy that lets satellite operators directly factor in the costs their launches impose on other operators."

[...] A better approach to the space debris problem, Rao and his colleagues found, is to implement an orbital-use fee — a tax on orbiting satellites. "That's not the same as a launch fee," Rao said, "Launch fees by themselves can't induce operators to deorbit their satellites when necessary, and it's not the launch but the orbiting satellite that causes the damage."

[...] "In our model, what matters is that satellite operators are paying the cost of the collision risk imposed on other operators," said Daniel Kaffine, professor of economics and RASEI Fellow at the University of Colorado Boulder and co-author on the paper.

Reference:
Akhil Rao, Matthew G. Burgess and Daniel Kaffine, Orbital-use fees could more than quadruple the value of the space industry", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1921260117


Original Submission

Related Stories

World's First Wooden Satellite to be Launched by Japan in 2023 30 comments

World's first wooden satellite to be launched by Japan in 2023:

TOKYO -- Japanese logging company Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University are planting the seeds for a 2023 launch of the world's first satellite made out of wood.

The partners announced their intentions on Wednesday[, December 23], saying the aim was basic research and proof of concept.

EurAsian Times adds:

Outer space is filled with more than 23,000 known man-made fragments – from dead satellites to errant nuts and bolts – zipping around the planet, posing a threat to working satellites. Currently, there are around 2,500 active satellites orbiting the Earth.

The Japanese company's move assumes significance as it comes at a time when the nations are trying to build eco-friendly satellites to reduce space junk.

[...] The wood will burn up completely without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere or raining debris on the ground when the wooden satellite will be plunging back to Earth after it de-orbits, the report claims. Debris anyway burns when it enters Earth's atmosphere.

The articles also point out that wood is transparent to electromagnetic radiation, allowing new designs with antenna locations inside the satellite.

Also at BBC.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:16PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:16PM (#1002239)

    Just charge 5875,000 anually per-satellite. According to my estimates, that should increase the value of the satellite industry by a 100x. But why stop there?

  • (Score: 2) by anotherblackhat on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:39PM (12 children)

    by anotherblackhat (4722) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:39PM (#1002251)

    Fees for using space make as much sense as fees for using the Ocean.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:02PM (11 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:02PM (#1002268)

      They make as much cents (and dollars) as auctions for RF bandwidth.

      If we're going to get righteous about impact fees for space, how about we start down here in the mud and charge impact fees for things like plastic bottles that end up in the oceans, environmental and human medical costs of mercury emissions from coal burning powerplants, diesel soot from vehicles and highways, downstream medical costs from landmine production, etc.? Oh, wait, I know this one: because the entrenched / established industries have too much influence in government and won't allow it, but Elon and his buddies are rich pussies and Congress thinks they can shake 'em down.

      --
      My karma ran over your dogma.
      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by DannyB on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:17PM (3 children)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:17PM (#1002278) Journal

        What if everything manufactured had the cost of its disposal factored in. Along with a "down payment" from the consumer to create incentive for them to return items to the proper recycling places. Especially electronic items with valuable metals.

        The environment is limited just as radio spectrum is limited. We should be managing how it is "used". We've just always thought of it as unlimited. Until we realized it really isn't.

        --
        Biden needs to mandate an official static TCP port for running 'finger' with TLS 1.3.
        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:43PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:43PM (#1002286)

          As population continues to march onward to 10B+, we're going to need to mature to processes that do account for resources like the environment this way.

          If we could wind back human population to 200M or so, we could go back to dilution as the solution to pollution. We'd want to be a little intelligent about bio-degradable packaging, etc. but if humanity consisted of 100 cities of ~1M population, plus 100M people scattered in rural communities of 100-200 people each, landfills could be a permanent renewable solution for waste disposal - let them decompose for 200 years or so, then start recycling them.

          The problem with capturing externalized costs lies in definitions and boundaries. A 25 year old asbestos removal worker dies of cancer at age 35 with a wife and two children - what's the externalized cost of his labor in the asbestos removal? Assuming he should have lived to 75, he lost 40 years of life, his family lost 30 years of his income, if that income isn't replaced his children lost the opportunity of a college education, their children are born into poverty, etc. It's easy(ier) to look retrospectively at things and come up with their externalized costs, it's virtually impossible to look at new or even existing situations and project their costs into the future.

          --
          My karma ran over your dogma.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:35PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:35PM (#1002490)

          The more excuses get invented to increase the tax burden on real economic activities, the richer the financiers and their friendly politicians get, and the poorer everyone else.
          As is already obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes and a brain.

        • (Score: 2) by driverless on Wednesday June 03 2020, @06:17AM

          by driverless (4770) on Wednesday June 03 2020, @06:17AM (#1002626)

          And that's the point of space usage fees, it forces operators to think about pollution/space junk because now it has a value attached to it. When it's free you can just dump your junk wherever you want which makes it completely invisible to most organisation, it's only when there's a dollar value attached to something that organisations are forced to pay attention. Look at bunker fuel for an example of this, spewing tons of toxic pollution from the cheapest crap you can burn is free so everyone uses it as much as possible - at best there's a fig-leaf where you're required to burn less polluting crap within a certain distance of land, but otherwise it's a free-for-all because you can't point the corporate accountants at a figure and say "it'll cost this much to burn the polluting crap instead of cleaner fuel".

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by anotherblackhat on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:18PM (2 children)

        by anotherblackhat (4722) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:18PM (#1002279)

        They make as much cents (and dollars) as auctions for RF bandwidth.

        Not really.
        RF transmitters work better the closer they are to the receiver.
        A country can delude itself into thinking it owns the ether over it's boarders up to some height.

        No country is so deluded that it thinks it owns the ocean, or space.

        • (Score: 4, Touché) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:47PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:47PM (#1002289)

          No country is so deluded that it thinks it owns the ocean, or space.

          The superpowers have a set of rules for the ocean that amounts to group ownership - rules that the members of the group revise from time to time, the way a condo owners' association does.

          Re-elect T(he)rump in 2020 and watch a leader so deluded that he thinks he owns space.

          --
          My karma ran over your dogma.
        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @07:46PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @07:46PM (#1002307)

          China claims the whole South China Sea, despite the fact that this contains a number of islands that belong to other countries, or simply are other countries. As usual, China claims everything it can see, and everyone else must simply be subservient.

      • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Tuesday June 02 2020, @10:50PM (3 children)

        by darkfeline (1030) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @10:50PM (#1002469) Homepage

        > how about we start down here in the mud and charge impact fees for things like plastic bottles that end up in the oceans

        But we do (if you live in one of states with deposit laws)? That deposit is what you're getting back if you return the bottle for recycling.

        --
        Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:13PM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:13PM (#1002483)

          Minor New England states are not nearly as important or impactful as they think they are. Plastic bottle deposits never really caught on elsewhere.

          --
          My karma ran over your dogma.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:50PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:50PM (#1002499)

          Time is money. All that nickle-and-diming is designed to cost enough of a mark's time that anyone holding a job would lose more, money-wise, if he spends time "getting back" the, in essence, private tax. The result? As designed: the bottles flow to the oceans as before, and money flows to some "green" pockets.

          • (Score: 2, Interesting) by anubi on Wednesday June 03 2020, @01:24AM

            by anubi (2828) on Wednesday June 03 2020, @01:24AM (#1002530) Journal

            The exact reason I put my refundable cans into big bags and leave them in homeless areas.

            It's an "economy of scale" thing. I simply don't have time to mess with it. But if I catch someone rooting through a dumpster after cans, I'll offer them mine to add to theirs. Same when passing by a recycling center line. Give it to somebody. Especially if they don't have much. They must need the money awful bad to wait in line that long for it.

            I will very rarely give money, but I will give recyclables, considering they earned what they got from it.

            --
            "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:40PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:40PM (#1002252)

    Satellite operators already deorbit end of life satellites (or move them to low risk graveyard orbits if they are too high to deorbit). In the United States, a disposal plan is required by the FCC (not the FAA, which would seem to be the more appropriate agency, but it's still required). The best way to get rid of space junk is to get rid of space junk.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by PiMuNu on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:22PM (1 child)

      by PiMuNu (3823) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:22PM (#1002283)

      That model breaks down if the number of *active* satellites becomes large - e.g. massive 100k Elon Musk constellations.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by cmdrklarg on Wednesday June 03 2020, @03:56PM

        by cmdrklarg (5048) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 03 2020, @03:56PM (#1002773)

        Starlink satellites have thrusters that will deorbit them at the end of their life. If the thrusters fail the satellites will be in low orbits, so that they will fall out of orbit within 5 years due to atmospheric drag.

        --
        Dealing out the agony within
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by ilsa on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:43PM (1 child)

    by ilsa (6082) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:43PM (#1002253)

    I'm all for holding these satellite companies accountable, but I fail to understand how this is anything more than a cash grab.

    If the whole point is to manage a common resource, then there should be an end game to that fee collection like covering the cost of clean up.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:59PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:59PM (#1002265)

      Exactly, and let’s not forget the poor astronomers, half the fee goes to their ‘space telescope Kickstarter’:

      Help! Satellite constellations killed ground based astronomy Help us get our telescope in orbit
      1oo dollars level- we name a new star discovery after YOU

  • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:58PM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @05:58PM (#1002264)

    Justified with the usual leftist claptrap. The left is all about the Commons. Funny how it is always a small group of them that gets paid handsomely to "administer" "The People's" Property.

    • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:20PM (8 children)

      by PiMuNu (3823) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:20PM (#1002282)

      You are already paying quite a lot of taxes to manage this stuff. NASA and ESA run ground-based monitoring stations to monitor earth satellites. Government-owned satellites have to pack additional fuel in case they need to avoid other objects.

      To put it in economic terms, your taxes, if you pay tax in Europe or US, are subsidising the satellite industry.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by PartTimeZombie on Tuesday June 02 2020, @09:32PM (7 children)

        by PartTimeZombie (4827) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 02 2020, @09:32PM (#1002379)

        There is no point in explaining any of that to the A/C's who post using the term "leftist".

        They have no clue what they're whittering on about, and don't care about your facts. Reality is just some Democrat conspiracy to them.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @10:36PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @10:36PM (#1002447)

          I consider myself to be a radical leftist, what do you believe I should call myself? I'm not a member of a political party, so how do I describe myself?

        • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @10:54PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @10:54PM (#1002475)

          Progressive Democrats have such a sharp handle on reality they thought making a sacrificial offer of a *police station* to the rioters/arsonists would make them stop rioting and committing arson. Lack of police in the streets would stop the criminality.

          WTF???

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03 2020, @02:00AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03 2020, @02:00AM (#1002543)

            Someone guessed you are Fusty, but I'm guessing you're EF and just got tired of people instantly dismissing shit you say. Then again, there is no shortage of angry incels on the net so only you get to know what flavor of Comanche Protection Ornithopter you are.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:52PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @11:52PM (#1002500)

          No matter how loudly you scream.

        • (Score: 1) by anubi on Wednesday June 03 2020, @01:36AM (1 child)

          by anubi (2828) on Wednesday June 03 2020, @01:36AM (#1002535) Journal

          Agreed, the leftist part is troll.

          But the concept of special interest groups pandering to Congress to make law to compel yet another burden on someone to fund someone else is not "fighting for me" .

          But then, if we were all paying attention to what the pens of our legislators were doing, not a one of them would have ever seen another day of public service after passing the DMCA.

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bradley13 on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:01PM (5 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:01PM (#1002267) Homepage Journal

    What a stupid idea. Put forward, undoubtedly, by someone who would stand to profit from these fees.

    an annual fee rising to about $235,000 per satellite would quadruple the value of the satellite industry by 2040

    Guess what, taxing something doesn't make that thing more valuable. What it does is provide a disincentive to purchase said thing. So: fewer satellites, which would be a net reduction in the value of the space industry.

    Now, if they were serious, what they could do is require a bond: Pay a substantial fee into a blocked account; get it back when the satellite is successfully de-orbited. Thus providing a financial incentive to make sure that your satellite does not become space junk. Make the amount enough that adding de-orbiting capability is economically worthwhile.

    But means no one would be sucking in the fees. They would just be sitting in a neutral bank account. Where's the opportunity for graft and corruption? So...won't happen...

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by PiMuNu on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:18PM (2 children)

      by PiMuNu (3823) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:18PM (#1002280)

      > require a bond: Pay a substantial fee into a blocked account; get it back when the satellite is successfully de-orbited.

      The cost is an ongoing operational cost to all other satellite owners and ground-based monitoring stations (typically run by governments), so this model doesn't make sense.

      Say Elong Moog launches 100,000 satellites. Then all other satellite owners have to pay to track those satellites and dodge them if/when they come close.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DannyB on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:20PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:20PM (#1002281) Journal

        While space is big, it is not unlimited. Thus it may actually be necessary to manage it just as with radio spectrum.

        --
        Biden needs to mandate an official static TCP port for running 'finger' with TLS 1.3.
      • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03 2020, @04:48AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03 2020, @04:48AM (#1002608)

        "The cost is an ongoing operational cost"

        So if the company goes bankrupt and can't afford to keep paying the fees nor can they afford to remove the satellite? Then the satellite gets left up there with no fees getting paid. Companies will simply go bankrupt and employees/executives/investors will move on to new companies that do the same thing without having to pay fees so that they can 'start new'.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday June 02 2020, @09:41PM (1 child)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 02 2020, @09:41PM (#1002391) Journal

      Now, if they were serious, what they could do is require a bond: Pay a substantial fee into a blocked account; get it back when the satellite is successfully de-orbited.

      It's not easy to get ahold of present day regulations on satellites, but they do a lot of this stuff already throughout the world. At the least, the operator has to show they have a plan for end of life (for example, deorbiting the satellite or putting it into a permanent out of the way "disposal" orbit).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03 2020, @12:59AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03 2020, @12:59AM (#1002521)

        Do they do this already? AFAIK it's a lot easier submit a plan for de-orbiting than it is to transfer $$$$$ as a bond for de-orbiting.

        You can more easily easily copy and reuse a plan for a similar satellite than reuse $$$$$ that's already been transferred to someone else.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:43PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 02 2020, @06:43PM (#1002285)

    Exactly where is this money going?

  • (Score: 2) by ilPapa on Tuesday June 02 2020, @08:23PM

    by ilPapa (2366) on Tuesday June 02 2020, @08:23PM (#1002323) Journal

    Just make the checks out to Donald J Trump.

    --
    You are still welcome on my lawn.
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