You are on page 1of 12


featuring an interview with Dr Alice Gorman (aka: Dr Spacejunk) of Flinders University, South Australia. by David Harmon, August, 2011

There is a poignant moment at the beginning of the classic science fiction movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which a rather hairy hominid, Moonwatcher, launches a bony, sun-bleached projectile high into the vast blue dome of the sky.

© 1967 MGM/WB

The scene is simple yet full of powerful symbolism. In a moment it bridges some two and a half million years from our first use of the simplest of tools to a world-of-things-to-come. It is a world in which we have achieved the truly magical feat of keeping our play-things high in the sky, without falling back to the Earth. However, as magical as it seems it presents just as many problems as Mickey Mouse had as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This technological wizardry is due to our understanding of orbital dynamics, which had amazing implications, particularly in the area of satellites & communications—the application of which was detailed by Arthur C. Clarke (author of 2001) in a paper i entitled “Extra-Terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?" in Wireless World magazine in 1945 ii. The launch of Sputnik 1 into the virgin night sky, back in the late ‘50s, heralded in the era of the “space race”, after which there quickly followed a barrage of experimental space craft technologies and satellites, much of which were short-lived but still remained in orbit, resulting in an accumulation of detritus and leftover boosters. While most of this junk would eventually fall back to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere, there remains a significant amount still floating about, particularly for those objects that reached higher orbits. It is clear that from the very beginnings of our explorations into space we have taken for granted its sheer vastness, giving us little cause to consider the impact that even minute traces of accumulated debris may cause. Despite this, there were some, such as then NASA physicist Donald Kessler, who recognised the potential problems. In Kessler’s 1978 paper “Collision Frequency of Artificial Satellites: The Creation of a Debris Belt” he warned that collisions between space debris could cause a domino effect resulting in a very hazardous situation for future spacecraft. Though widely circulated at the time, little attention was paid to the cautionary advice presented. Now in the 21st century we have arrived at a point where after the space of only sixty years we are beginning to realize there is a very real risk of burying ourselves under an orbital layer of space trash. Hopefully, things will not get as bad as the situation depicted in the Pixar movie, Wall-E, though we have certainly messed up our doorstep already to the point where scientists are now factoring in the necessities of maintaining a safe, debris free orbital environment. This is of particular concern in the orbital range of the

Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

© 2008 Pixar

International Space Station (ISS) where debris avoidance manoeuvres are almost routine—in fact, on the 28th of June 2011, NASA had only just received reports that a significant piece of unidentified space junk would make a close approach to within 400 meters of the ISS. As the object was spotted too late to make a Debris Avoidance Manoeuvre (DAM) the 6 man crew aboard the ISS, as a contingency measure, took shelter in the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, docked to the station iii. Another alert was made just two weeks later (the day after Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with the ISS on July 11 for the final mission of the Space Shuttle fleet) as debris from an old Russian satellite, COSMOS 375, approached the station passing quickly by at a safe but uncomfortably close distance iv.
© 2008 Pixar

So what exactly is this “space junk”? According to the UCS . . “Orbital debris is any human-made object in orbit that no longer serves a useful purpose. This includes discarded equipment, abandoned satellites, bolts and other hardware released during satellite deployment, as well as further fragmentations of these components caused by explosions or collisions”. Space debris that remains in orbit for long durations often travels at speeds of roughly 28,000 km/h. Even though most of this debris comprise fragments too small to be tracked and monitored, even minute pieces can be extremely dangerous at these speeds. A mere 1 centimetre sphere of aluminium, for example, given a high enough velocity, could impact another object with a force equal to 1 kilogram of TNT v. Even a fleck of paint could gain enough kinetic energy at these velocities to permanently damage vital equipment aboard operational spacecraft. There are several hundred spacecraft and satellites that need protective measures to safeguard them from space debris. In 1989 NASA began analysing the results of the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) placed in orbit several years earlier to measure the effects of debris impacts on various materials. This enabled NASA to develop protective shields for the ISS to deal with the effects of minor debris impacts vi. Additionally, NASA and many of the other space agencies around the globe have set up space debris tracking facilities to help curb disastrous encounters with orbiting debris. Initially North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) monitored much of this debris
the LDEF, image courtesy NASA

Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

using a global contingent of 20 land-based radars and optical telescopes in the Space Surveillance Network (SSN). The U.S. Department of Defense’ Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) along with the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies (CORDS) and the NASA Orbital Debris Program continue the initiative in monitoring orbital debris, alerting NASA and other space agencies whenever there is threat of orbital close encounters. In Europe the Space Debris Office (a department of the European Space Agency (ESA))coordinates the tracking of, and research into, the protection and mitigation against space debris. Although Space Agencies are able to track and predict collision events, the technology used in monitoring space debris can only detect particles larger than the size of a typical melon. So although engineers have developed special shielding materials to protect against the tiniest of debris particles, intermediate sized objects from 1 to 15 centimetres, are untrackable, remaining the biggest hazard for orbital spacecraft. The issues of growing space debris hadn’t escaped the attention of Arthur C. Clarke, who foresaw these problems when he was envisioning his fictional space elevator in the 1978 novel The Fountains of Paradise, in which he devises Operation Cleanup. Today there are many proposals put forward for debris mitigation.

However, before we go bringing in the space dumpsters, does any of this junk have any value? Bumping around amongst the debris up there are a few gems that have not, until recently, had much recognition and are in need of protection from space debris themselves. So plans to spring-clean our space doorstep could result in the loss of irreplaceable historical artefacts. Vanguard I, for instance—a steampunk version of today’s satellites—is the oldest object classified as space debris. It was launched as far back as 1958 and, though operational for only 6 years, is still very much an artefact of cultural and historical significance, having remained in orbit for more than half a century. A concerted effort has been made to locate and catalogue many other defunct satellites with similar historical significance to Vanguard I to have classified as national heritage objects. This idea was presented at the 5th World Archaeological Conference in Washington DC, in 2003, and again in 2005 at the Australian Space Science Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Among papers presented in 2005 was that of Dr Alice Gorman’s, The Archaeology of Orbital Space vii, in which she discusses the heritage value of these objects and presents avenues for “managing the archaeological record of human endeavours beyond the atmosphere”.
image courtesy NASA

In her paper Dr Gorman writes. . . “. . . not every object poses the same risk to space operations. By assessing the risk presented by different debris size classes, I argue that there is considerable leeway for preserving significant orbital objects such as Vanguard 1, the oldest human object in space, Australia’s FedSat scientific satellite, and Syncom 3, the first true geostationary satellite. . . . In the nearly 50 years since the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, Earth’s orbital space has become densely populated with human material culture, objects that represent a unique phase in human technological, political and social evolution”.

Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

In 2010 I had the opportunity of attending a lecture by Dr Gorman (aka Dr Spacejunk) on Space Archaeology, at the University of Queensland. Dr Gorman received her Honours in Bachelor of Arts (Archaeology) at the University of Melbourne and obtained her PhD (Archaeology) at the University of New England (UNE). She is currently Lecturer in Archaeology at Flinders University, South Australia, and is Co-Chair of the World Archaeological Congress Space Heritage Task Force. Dr Gorman’s career has covered many interesting and diverse fields of research from Indigenous studies and lithics, to more recently investigating the heritage value of the Orroral Valley Tracking Station in the Australian Capital Territory; which played a major role in orbital communications and tracking of space hardware, during the Apollo era, since 1965.
image courtesy Dr Alice Gorman

In the introduction to her paper La Terre et l’Espace: Rockets, Prisons, Protests and Heritage in Australia and French Guiana viii Dr Gorman writes. . . “ Rocket science and the space enterprise are often represented as the ultimate in global culture: a profoundly human aspiration that unites all people in all places. In Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the desire for space is present at the birth of humanity, as a hairy proto-human flings its bone tool into the sky to be transformed into a wheeling space station (Boylan 1985). In the twenty first century, space stations and other spacecraft are manoeuvred in orbit from terrestrial control rooms enclosed by glass windows, as if to isolate them from the mundane quality of earthbound life. The high technology of space exploration is universal, modern, and placeless (Redfield 1996:252)”. The oftentimes earthy (and Earthly) pursuits of archaeology can seem so remote from the high-tech world of the aerospace industry. However, Dr Gorman’s talk on space heritage in Earth orbit was, for this author, quite an eye opener, specifically that many items of space junk remaining in orbit today are indeed objects of cultural heritage. Dr Gorman further explained that orbital space is essentially a new strata in the archaeological record of human activity orbiting high above the Earth in space, thus generating a new area of study, tentatively called Space Archaeology—this new field of archaeology would be analogous with Maritime (or Marine) Archaeology in that it resides entirely in a locale and medium not normally associated with human activity.


Recently Dr Gorman was gracious enough to answer a few questions by email and detail a few of her thoughts on the need for preserving important items that are still in orbit above us. I asked how she came to begin her research into Space heritage . . . “In some ways it seems like a natural development. I can vividly remember, as a five year old, watching the Apollo 11 moon landing, and being entranced by the possibilities of space exploration. As a child I was torn between two ambitions, to be an archaeologist or an astrophysicist. Archaeology won, and in particular Australian archaeology – despite studying Ancient Greek language for four years as an undergraduate, I couldn’t get inspired by classical archaeology. “About eight years ago I was working on a large consulting project in Queensland, and I came home one night absolutely exhausted from a hot day in the field, cracked a beer and went out onto the veranda of my old Queenslander to relax. It was a particularly clear night, and I had a beautiful view 4
Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

of the night sky. I was idly wondering if there were any satellites among the stars I could see, when a thought struck me like a bolt from the blue. What if satellites had heritage value? And, if so, could we just apply the same heritage management principles we use here on earth (through the Burra Charter) to objects in space? I was pretty sure we could, but I didn’t know – I needed to start this research myself to find out. “A year later I was working at the Environmental Protection Agency in Rockhampton. The Fifth World Archaeological Congress was coming up, and John Campbell from James Cook University had organised what might have been the first conference session about space archaeologyix ever. As the time drew near, I realised I would have to make a choice: I couldn’t continue my research while I was a full-time public servant. So just before the conference, I resigned, wrote two papers (one about orbital debris, which remains my main focus, and one about the significance of space sites), and set off for Washington DC with no idea what was going to happen”. In Dr Gorman’s lecture on space heritage in earth orbit she mentioned that Vanguard 1 is the oldest and one of the most significant objects of heritage value still orbiting the earth today. I asked what other significant pieces of hardware, apart from satellites, might still be out there worth locating and conserving . . . “I notice you specify hardware, as I have also discussed the research value of human waste products in orbit, with varying reactions! There’s rocket stages, like the Agena, the upper stage of Atlas, Titan and Thor boosters, and the rendezvous and docking target for the Gemini programme in the 1960s. There are a few of them left in orbit - the last was launched as recently as 1987. Staged rockets are interesting creatures – they only exist for a short period of time as complete objects, as they are assembled immediately prior to launch and in the process of delivering their payload or completing their mission various of their components are destroyed. They are a link between satellites and their ground segments. “Payload launches involve what is called mission-related debris, objects such as fairings and bolts, that are released when the payload separates from the launch vehicle. On occasion separation or release has failed to occur, and it would be very interesting to examine these spacecraft to see exactly what failed. “There are also more human objects – assuming none of them have re-entered at the time of writing – which include cameras lost by Mir cosmonauts, rubbish bags, a wrench, toothbrush, pair of pliers and tool bagx. These attract a lot of interest, perhaps because people can relate to them more than massive pieces of space hardware”.

I was interested to learn what sort of reaction there had been from the space industry in regard to her efforts for space heritage . . . “I have to say that Australian space industry has been incredibly supportive. It still amazes me that I can attend space conferences and industry events and be taken seriously. Well, my research is solid, so I shouldn’t be too surprised, I guess, but it is really nice to feel part of this community, and I generally get a very positive response to my ideas. “So the Australian space community are pretty familiar with my take on things by now, so I tend to get the most varied reactions from international people who may not have come across these ideas before. When they learn I’m an archaeologist, they assume that I must be into remote sensing – using satellite imagery to identify cultural landscapes and archaeological sites on Earth. So I mention orbital debris, leading to the next assumption, that I want to look at re-entered objects.

Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

When I explain that I’m actually researching objects still in orbit, they are very surprised and often I can see a few seconds of thinking before they know what to say! “The other interesting reaction is when I talk about cultural heritage management of orbital and planetary space. In general, I have observed, space industry doesn’t really have a well-developed concept of space as an environment, with its own “natural” values. There’s a very complex field of environmental ethics that relates to this. Without this understanding, it’s quite a leap to cultural heritage management. This is probably the major obstacle to acceptance of the idea that space hardware in orbit forms a cultural landscape that needs to be considered in its own right, rather than just being a random conglomeration of junk. “My early desire to be an astrophysicist has stood me in good stead, for at least I have the capacity to tackle the scientific literature on this stuff, and (mostly) understand it. Also, as a professional archaeologist working in Indigenous heritage management, I’ve spent a lot of time working with engineers, so I can talk that talk. Now it’s just a matter of trying to reach a new audience”. One thing that stuck with me from her lecture last year at the University of Queensland was her mention of the possible effects “all this aluminium” could be having on the charged particles within Earth’s ionosphere and asked if this may speed up the process for a need to 'clean up' objects in orbital space sooner than projected . . . “This was part of trying to develop this idea of space as an environment. I don’t actually have any evidence for this; it just seems a logical conclusion, as aluminium is such a common material in spacecraft manufacture. Forty thousand tonnes of material from space falls to Earth every year (this includes everything, not just space junk), and we are in a constant dynamic interchange with space – so we have to consider what we are contributing to the orbital environment as a whole. There are innumerable studies on how space activity affects Earth environment – the upper atmosphere, for example, and emissions given off during launches, and insofar as space industry engages in environmental impact assessment, it’s all from the perspective of impacts on Earth. I think this is part of what I bring to this discussion with my background in terrestrial industry. There is no life beyond the Earth to be impacted by our activities, so no-one seems to examine the long term impacts on the space environment of introducing elements that were previously rare, or objects that carry charge into a plasma. (If anyone can point me to some literature on this I’d be grateful!). “I don’t think this is something that makes much of a difference to the urgency of orbital debris clean-up one way or other at this stage. But I do think we can’t afford to overlook this in assessments of the orbital environment. We will do better at managing the space environment if we cease to view it as an empty, value-neutral substrate, into which we insert our material culture, and instead take account of how the components of the system interact. Perhaps I’m just stating the obvious here, but in my research I have noticed this is not a common perspective”. Reading up on Dr Gorman’s work on space heritage I found that during her research she has visited rocket launch facilities in Kourou, French Guiana and Woomera in South Australia and wondered if there had been any interest from the U.S. in having her advise them on the heritage value of their launch facilities in Florida . . . “I would love it if there was! The US have many more archaeologists than we do in Australia, and many of their major facilities have their own in-house heritage people – the White Sands Missile Range, for example, employs at least three archaeologists. And of course there is my colleague Beth Laura O’Leary at New Mexico State University, who is the world’s leading authority on the archaeology and heritage of Tranquility Base [Apollo 11 lunar landing site]. “Some of these places are already heritage listed in the US, as national landmarks, and some of them are on the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics [AIAA] historic aerospace sites register. Their national heritage values are easy to argue – but if any terrestrial space facilities were ever to be proposed for World Heritage status, I think a broader view of their significance would have to be taken. So if anyone wants to invite me ……” As a side note, an article on the Flinders University website talks about Dr Gorman’s interest in the impact of aerospace installations, such as those in Australia and French Guiana, can have on Indigenous peoples in the area (which, I suppose, to the indigenous populations, could be viewed as a kind of terrestrial space junkyard). I asked what kind of impact she had found in this regard? . . . 6
Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

“In Australia, and in Algeria where the French built their first launch ranges in the 1940s, the immediate impact on local populations was displacement. So Aboriginal and Tuareg people were excluded from land they previously had access to; they were excluded from the space age, which was seen as succeeding them – their technologies (robust enough to survive in desert regions for thousands of years) were suddenly outmoded, useless. More Aboriginal people were forced to “come in” by the placement of the Woomera rocket range, ending up usually at missions where their movements were strictly controlled. Tuareg people in the area of Colomb-Bechar and Hammaguir were herded into camps and placed under surveillance, particularly as the political situation in Algeria was volatile. So the space age had an impact on them, and when we think about the significance of terrestrial launch sites, this is also part of it – it was not only the nations who paid vast sums of money to get into space who are stakeholders; it is also those who contributed in ways that were not always beneficial for their own communities. “A site I’d love to work on is the Giles meteorological station out in the Gibson Desert. It’s a space age contact site where Weapons Research Establishment staff, providing weather reports both for rocket launches at Woomera and nuclear tests at Maralinga, interacted with the Indigenous groups who came there for water. I’d really like to do an archaeological survey and see how these interactions shaped the landscape in the kinds of artefacts both groups left behind and where they carried out their activities. This might be a future research project”. Dr Gorman remarks further on this in her paper La Terre et l’Espace: Rockets, Prisons, Protests and Heritage in Australia and French Guiana xi and writes . . . “In common with other Western industrial concerns exploiting primary resources in the developing world, space installations involve the creation of technological enclaves, isolated from local life, but promising benefits from participation in the global economy. Space sites, however, seem to offer something more. Like the monolith rising out of the desert in 2001: A Space Odyssey, they speak of an evolutionary leap into the next world, an out-of-Africa migration into a quiescent cosmos”.

One aspect that is interesting to consider is how exactly will we go about protecting and preserving these technological artefacts of world heritage? In, The Archaeology of Orbital Space, Dr Gorman states . . . “In the near future, space agencies are considering the necessity of removing material from orbital space. In the longer term, some orbital material may be both the subject of commercial salvage operations, and a destination for space tourists. Orbital objects and debris are the cultural heritage of the “Space Age” inaugurated by the launch of Sputnik I in 1957. Ever since, the formerly “empty” orbital space has become an organically evolving cultural landscape. . . . As space agencies prepare to de-clutter potentially dangerous space junk, it's time to assess the value of some of the millions of objects currently orbiting Earth. . . . There's a window of time now where we can plan to do it right”. To remove, or not to remove? . . . Do we leave those objects of significant cultural and technological heritage in their original orbits, or move them for posterity (and perhaps necessity) to become static exhibits in aerospace museums on Earth (and thus removing them from their contextual environments forever)? Other solutions are to move the more significant objects from their present orbital paths to more manageable locations in either higher orbital lanes termed “museum orbits” or perhaps relocate them to the various lagrange points around the Earth/Moon system, safely away from major space lanes. Again Sir Arthur envisioned this in his novel, 2061: Odyssey Three, where he describes the antiquated Russian interplanetary craft Leonov (originally featured in his previous novel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, set 51 years before), as ... “now hovering high above Farside as one of the main exhibits at the Lagrange Museum” xii. A prime candidate for such a museum in space would perhaps be the only surviving lunar module (LM) from the Apollo era to actually have made it to the Moon. This is the Apollo 10 LM ascent stage, “Snoopy”, which orbited the Moon in May of 1969. The lunar module ascent stages from each subsequent Apollo mission, were 7
Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

jettisoned after completion of their missions, making several slowly decaying orbits of the Moon before the fragile craft, on impacting the lunar surface, were destroyed leaving nothing more than a field of debris for future budding space archaeologists. Snoopy, on the other hand, is not only the first LM ascent stage to have made the long journey to the Moon, it is also the only one that is presumed to have survive intactxiii. Even though Snoopy was fully capable of making a lunar landing, the mission objectives for the crew of Apollo 10 were restricted to performing crucial shakedown procedures in preparation for the historic follow up mission of Armstrong and Aldrin aboard Apollo 11’s lunar module, Eagle. So while Snoopy was not actually scheduled to land on the Moon, it did cruise to within a tantalizing fourteen and a half kilometres above the lunar surface. On May 26 1969, after 8 hours orbiting the Moon the crew safely re-docked Snoopy with the Apollo 10 command module (CM), Charlie Brown. Once the trials were over and the crew entered the CM for the return trip to Earth, Snoopy was then detached from the CM and commanded to fire its engine for the last time, escaping the Moon’s gravitational attraction and placing it in a heliocentric orbit xiv. Having been spared from destruction Snoopy remains intact today, though now lost in space for more than 40yrs xv.

Snoopy, Apollo 10 LM ascent stage, image courtesy NASA

. . . AND TO THE FURTHEST REACHES As we can see in the case of the Apollo missions the archaeology of material space culture is not just limited to the orbital sphere around the Earth but also extends to human activities on the Moon, where many endeavours for heritage listings have been put into place. Further still both the U.S. and Soviet space agencies have sent interplanetary robotic missions to Venus and Mars and throughout the Solar System, to the Jovian planets and on into trans Neptunian space where soon the New Horizons spacecraft will visit Pluto for the first time—and 8
Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

let us not forget Pioneer 10 & 11 and Voyagers 1 &2, now more than 16 light hours distant and still very much operational—extending our sphere of human presence and material culture, even to the heliopause on the threshold of the Solar System . . . and soon beyond the cradle of human culture and on into the quiet deep of interstellar space.

image courtesy NASA

Voyager, image courtesy NASA



Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

Acknowledgements: Sincere thanks to Dr Alice Gorman for her valuable time in this interview. Very much appreciated. Thanks also to Mark Harmon & Tony Jackson for their helpful critiques of earlier drafts (please note, though, that any faults in grammar, punctuation, clumsiness of style or presentation remain entirely my own). Thanks also to Arthur & Stanley for their eternal inspiration.
Image on page 1 copyright ©1967 MGM/WB. Images on page 2 copyright ©2008 Pixar. Other images courtesy Dr Alice Gorman, and NASA.


Links & Further Reading: The Archaeology of Orbital Space by Dr Alice Gorman. I highly recommend this paper. An extremely well researched, in-depth look at orbital debris, space heritage and proposed mitigation methods by various space agencies. Space Age Archaeology (Dr Gorman’s blog) The top ten orbital debris-producing missions of all time Orbital cemeteries, state jurisdictions and debris Space Age Archaeology archived by the National Library Radio/Seti audio interview with Dr Alice Gorman June 6th 2011 Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology and Heritage by Dr. Beth O'Leary and Ann Darrin (Editors)
Space Junk Cleanup Poses Grand Challenge for 21st Century NASA real-time ISS tracker NASA Orbital Debris Program Office Satellite Tracker (find what’s overhead each night in your neck of the woods) Spacecraft cemetery in the South Pacific What is a Graveyard orbit? Brisbane Times article: Mystery object is space junk says scientist Space Junk Spotting, concept artist Sašo Sedlaček with Google Earth plugin An interesting and somewhat amusing speech by an Australian politician on colonising space, addressing the issue of space junk Launchspace training - Space Debris and the Future of Space Flight Steve Wilson’s Space Archaeology blog Junk in space game Apollo 10 links and image librarys –,8816,941680,00.html video

Gorman, Alice 2005 The Archaeology of Orbital Space. Australian Space Science Conference 5:338-357. Melbourne; RMIT University;dn=045519755996948;res=IELENG Gorman, Alice. La Terre et l’Espace: Rockets, Prisons, Protests and Heritage in Australia and French Guiana. Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 3(2): 153-168

Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

O'Leary, Beth L. 2006 The cultural heritage of space, the Moon and other celestial bodies. Antiquity 80(307) Klinkrad, Heiner 2006 Space Debris: models and risk analysis. Astronautical Engineering Springer Praxis Books UCS Satellite Database Aerospace: Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies Windows to the Universe: Space Debris Update: What are the Risks? May 7, 2002 by Jennifer Bergman. What’s Up: A Visual Database of Satellites and Debris November 16, 2010 by wang, ting. STS-135: FRR sets July 8 Launch Date for Atlantis – Debris misses ISS June 28th, 2011 by Chris Bergin

end notes
Originally Clarke’s paper was distributed privately amongst the scientific community. A reproduction can be found here (see bottom of page 11[pdf page 33] and onwards). Further information can be found at

The idea for geosynchronous satellites was in fact first put forward by Herman Potočnik-Noordung in 1928 (Noordung, Hermann; et al. (1995) [1929]. The Problem With Space Travel. Translation from original German. DIANE Publishing. pp. 72.)
ii iii

iv (see reply #35, last paragraph) Unfortunately at the time of writing this article (10 08 11) the Current ISS On-Orbit Status Report posted online by NASA for the 12th July 2011 was not accessible

source source



Gorman, Alice. The Archaeology of Orbital Space. In: Australian Space Science Conference 2005; pages: [338-357]. Melbourne: RMIT University, 2005. Gorman, Alice. La Terre et l’Espace: Rockets, Prisons, Protests and Heritage in Australia and French Guiana. In Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress vol 2 August 2007 pages 75-212
viii ix

THE HEAVENS ABOVE: ARCHAEOASTRONOMY, SPACE HERITAGE AND SETI Thursday 26th June 2003; 9.00 - 11.00 AM: MORNING SESSIONS Held at the American University, Washington D.C. Source homepage SESSION – Space Heritage and the Potential for Exoarchaeology in the Solar System: National and International Perspectives ORGANISERS – John Campbell (Australia) & Beth O’Leary (USA) PRESENTATIONS John B. Campbell: Assessing and Managing Human Space Heritage in the Solar System: The current state of play and some proposals Alice C. Gorman: Cultural Heritage Management in Orbit Alice C. Gorman: The Cultural Landscape of Space Beth L. O’Leary, Ralph Gibson, John Versluis & Leslie Brown: Lunar Archaeology: A view of Federal U.S. historic preservation law on the Moon ALSO SESSION – 11.30 AM - 1.00 PM: MIDDAY SESSIONS

Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.

SETI and the Potential for Exo-archaeology Beyond the Solar System: How Does One Imagine or Assess Non-human Perspectives? ORGANISERS – Doug Vakoch (USA) & John Campbell (Australia) PRESENTATIONS John B. Campbell: The Potential for Archaeology in SETI Research Douglas A. Vakoch: Archaeological Contributions to Interstellar Message Design Informal Workshop 1: Ways in which Archaeology Could Assist with the Detection of Technologies Created by Remotely-based Intelligent Species Informal Workshop 2: Employing Experience with Decoding Ancient Human Languages to Encode and Decode Interstellar Messages

In the accompanying photo an equipment bag drifts away from the ISS on Nov.18, 2008 during the first scheduled spacewalk for the crew of STS-126 as Astronaut Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper carries out maintenance work on one of the spacestation’s solar arrays. The tool bag circled the Earth for more than eight months before finally burning up in the Earth's atmosphere. Gorman, Alice. La Terre et l’Espace: Rockets, Prisons, Protests and Heritage in Australia and French Guiana. In Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress vol 2 August 2007 pages 75-212
xi xii

Chapter One, 2061: Odyssey Three, Arthur C. Clarke


Ten LMs were sent into space. The LMs from Apollos 5, 9—the first manned LM to fly in space—and 13 (both stages of which, after detaching from the CM, re-entered Earth's atmosphere after having served as a lifeboat during the aborted mission) burned up in Earth's atmosphere. The Apollo 11 LM ascent stage, Eagle, the first to actually land on the Moon, was unfortunately left in a slowly decaying lunar orbit which subsequently crashed onto the Moon—unfortunately, due to perturbations in its orbit the exact location of the impact site remains unknown today. The Apollo 12, 14, 15 and 17 LM ascent stages were purposely crashed onto the lunar surface to obtain seismic readings from instrumentation left on the lunar surface. The Apollo 16 ascent stage, Orion, was also scheduled to crash onto moon but failed to respond when commanded and was also subsequently left in a slowly decaying orbit, to also later crash at an, as yet, unknown location.

Snoopy is not the only Apollo hardware to be doing the rounds in a heliocentric orbit. In 2002 an object was tracked as it approached the Earth and is believed to have been the Saturn S-IVb from Apollo 12 Fortunately, Snoopy’s orbit, theoretically at least, should return the craft in close proximity with the Earth-Moon system approximately once every 12years. Even so, due to its relative small size and distance—even at its closest approach—has not been seen since its maiden voyage in1969, and remains undetectable. Today Snoopy is remembered in the Space Industry through the ‘Silver Snoopy Award’, called the "astronauts' personal award," presented to individuals since 1968 as part of NASA's Space Flight Awareness program to non-military personnel working in agencies involved with the space industry for outstanding performance that contribute to the success of human space flight missions.

Space Junk: an Archaeological Odyssey – David Harmon, August 2011.