Technology; Out of Control

May 11, 2010

Suppose an object, say a cannon ball, was shot horizontal to Earth’s surface at an extremely high speed.  Suppose that the cannon ball traveled so fast that if it fell, say one foot toward the ground, the Earth’s curvature would move away at the same rate.  In theory, the cannon ball would fall at the same rate the earth curved away and the ball would appear to stay the same height in the air while speeding around the Earth.  This idea is known as orbiting the earth and it was first accomplished by the Russians in October of 1957 with the launch of Sputnik, the world’s first satellite.

Since the early days of the Space Race between the United States and Russia, satellites have increased immensely in size and capability.  They support global communications systems, GPS, military intelligence systems, etc.  Even with all of this impressive technology, events beyond human control show that there is still room for improvement.  According to a Fox News article, a TV communications satellite has been disabled by a solar storm and is wandering into a US cable provider satellite’s path.  The two satellites will not collide but interfere with one another meaning the loss of several TV stations.  As of now, scientists don’t know what to do but they are working on the problem.

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