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A Two-Dimensional Space Program
by Staff Writers for Launchspace
Bethesda, MD (SPX) Jul 19, 2018

illustration only

Space is three dimensional and orbital mechanics is quite difficult to understand. Beginning in 1957, almost all satellites have been launched into the three-dimensional space about Earth.

Very few satellites have been placed in low-Earth orbit that are equatorial. The reason for this is that most satellite applications require flight over medium to high latitudes in order to surveil populated parts of our planet. However, everything that is flying in orbits that are inclined to the equator are traveling in three-dimensional space.

Three-dimensional flight significantly increases the complexity of motion, operations, maneuvers and launch opportunities. Maneuvers between orbital planes requires extreme amounts of propulsion system propellant.

Missions to the space station involve complex rendezvous maneuvers and timing limitations. Spacecraft, such as large-debris removers, cannot simply change planes in order to retrieve more than one object per mission. To put it simply, three-dimensional flight is complex, expensive and hard to manage.

The virtues of two-dimensional space flight, on the other hand, are simply elegant. So, how do we create a two-dimensional space program? The answer is to place all satellites into orbits that are not inclined to the equator. Thus, spacecraft would then be permanently in orbit within the equatorial plane. Then all satellites would fly in one plane.

In-plane maneuvers require very little propellant, are simple,and spacecraft can be launched and de-orbited at any time. Rendezvous missions are simple. In fact, equatorial orbits are perfect for many missions.

Since maneuvering is so simple, satellite servicing and refueling are easily implemented. Fuel depots can be placed in the same orbital plane as operating satellites. Tourist stations can be easily serviced and the costs to get into these orbits are relatively low compared to those related to ISS visits.

Yes, the equatorial plane is ripe for commercial space exploitation. Not only is it easy to get into and out of, but the debris density is lowest in this plane.

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Washington DC (SPX) Jul 12, 2018
NASA and Peanuts Worldwide are joining forces to collaborate on educational activities that share the excitement of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with the next generation of explorers and thinkers. The collaboration, formalized though a Space Act Agreement, provides an opportunity to update the Snoopy character by Charles M. Schulz, for space-themed programming with content about NASA's deep space exploration missions, 50 years after its initial collaboration began during the Ap ... read more

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