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Recovering Used Objects?

Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:13 am

Now, let me start off by saying I know very little about space travel, but it fascinates me!

Having just finished watching Apollo 13, I thought about the possibility, feasability and point of ever trying to retrieve equipment used on previous space missions...

I suppose the Apollo 13 mission is a perfect example, if they were able to retrieve the module with the oxygen tank which exploded, they could answer a lot of questions. Do you think it would be worthwhile?

Can NASA track these old objects and do they actively check up on the position of them to avoid them on future missions?

Insight into this is much appreciated Big grin
Religion is an illusion of childhood... Outgrown under proper education.
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RE: Recovering Used Objects?

Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:25 am

Quoting Daleaholic (Thread starter):
I suppose the Apollo 13 mission is a perfect example, if they were able to retrieve the module with the oxygen tank which exploded, they could answer a lot of questions. Do you think it would be worthwhile?

When the Command Module, with the astronauts, seperated from the Service Module, with the oxygen tank, they were both on a trajectory to reenter Earths atmosphere. The command module, with a heat shield, survived. The service module, with no heat shield, burned up.

They were able to answer all the questions about what happened by reviewing the records and telemetry.
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RE: Recovering Used Objects?

Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:20 am

You'd be amazed what they can figure out without even physically looking at something that went wrong. Although it is possible to plan a mission to recover something in some shape or form of a solar orbit, as lots of translunar space debris are in, there's no real point. It would be really expensive and time consuming. I mean, for Cassini, the most efficient way to get to Saturn was to launch towards Venus, and then slingshot passed earth 2 years later, basically back where it started however, going much, much faster. 7 years later it arrived in orbit about Saturn. Just blows your mind. So basically there's no real point in going after something when we can find as stated before by telemetry records, what exactly happened.
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RE: Recovering Used Objects?

Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:30 pm

There is legal aspect as well. Under international law, a spacecraft (or arguably a portion of) belongs to the country that launched it, unless that country expressly abandons ownership. It's a precept similar to wrecks of foreign warships, which was reiterated in a case involving the wreck of a Spanish warship off the coast of Virginia that was loaded with gold. Spain argued successfully in court that it did not expressly abandon the wreck so the salvors had no claim to the ship or its cargo.

The point being, if a country (or private entity) attempted to salvage an object or spacecraft that was launched by another country and that country had not expressly abandoned the object/spacecraft, there would be no legal right to salvage.

{Edited because I didn't use spell check}

[Edited 2009-06-15 06:37:08]
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