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A farewell photo of the European Space Agency’s GOCE satellite was taken by avid satellite tracker, Marco Langbroek of Leiden, Netherlands. Due to its low altitude, the spacecraft zipped across the sky at high speed in deep evening twilight late last month.
“Personally, I do feel sorry to see GOCE come to an end, a project on which I have spent seven intense years. Then again, it is also a good feeling to know that we have really gotten the most out of this mission before its natural end … much more than what we could have hoped for,” Steiger said.
Canada’s broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, urged cable and satellite companies in 2011 to adopt a pick-and-pay pricing model when it unveiled new regulations aimed at preventing television broadcasters from restricting consumer choice.
To remedy this, the Pentagon wants to harvest parts from the roughly $300 billion worth of dead satellites that sit in a heavenly “graveyard or disposal orbit” and use their spare parts to build new ones, Frankenstein style, under a project called Phoenix. A roughly $40 million Phoenix contract was handed out earlier this week to a California company called NovaWurks.
The sleek 1.2-ton (1,100 kilograms) GOCE satellite is outfitted with an Xenon-fueled ion engine that compensated for any drag by generating carefully calculated thrusts. It skimmed above Earth at a low orbit of about 139 miles (224 kilometers).
DARPA isn’t wasting any time. The agency expects a demonstration of orbital Frankensteinery by 2016. That’s less than three years to create a satellite capable of meeting another in space and performing surgery all while traveling at insane speeds in a weightless environment. What could possibly go wrong?