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Jonfliesgoats

How Would you Steal Someone Else's Satellite from Orbit?

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In the eighties there was a race to capture/resurrect Salyut 7.  The advantages of snagging another nation's satellite in tact from orbit are considerable and worth significant investment.  How would you go about doing this?

De-orbiting another nation's satellite in tact, especially if parties are convinced that the satellites were destroyed on reentry would be immensely valuable.

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1 minute ago, Jonfliesgoats said:

In the eighties there was a race to capture/resurrect Salyut 7

Nope...

Did you even read the article?

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You don't.  There was no serious expectation that the US could steal Salyut 7, even if  Reagan was on board and thought it was a nifty idea and the mission could justify the extreme mass of the shuttle orbiter.

The requirements:

Have a Shuttle, Buran, or similar vessel with an absolutely ridiculous cargo bay capable of returning your satellite.  Something so big it would eat most of your mass budget for nearly all cargoes going up.  Also make sure that your vessel can match orbits and inclination of the target satellite (even more important if using a Buran).

Have absolutely detailed and correct engineering drawings (including any expected alterations due to launch accelerations and long term zero-g/UV exposure).  Build a harness to store the after capture and during re-entry.

Gain control of the satellite, presumably by electronic measures.  Note that this was actually done with the ISEE-3 (international cometary expedition-3), but that was a scientific instrument.  Don't expect something like the Salyut 7 to be something easily controlled, nor the original owners ignoring your actions.

Do the bog-standard kerbal/NASA intercept mission to rendezvous with the satellite.

Break out the Canadarm and pull the bird in (your Buran is equipped with a Canadarm, is it not?).  If pulling a shuttle out of retirement, make sure the canadarm is fully attached (and there is enough room for both arm and bird).

Method 2 (even sillier):

Have Bidgelow Aerospace build a "birdbag" that would be effectively be an inflatable fairing plus heat shield and parachutes.  Use the same drawings used by the fairing maker (and fairing) to build any harness necessary for building the thing (note that this already isn't possible with Salyut 7 [or the ISS] since they were assembled after multiple flights.  You would need to dissemble the the satellite in orbit (which was never intended) and hope it still fit in the fairing).

Gain control of the satellite, do your rendezvous.

Attempt to stuff the satellite into the birdbag while wearing a full space suit.  Film the entire process and upload with Yakety Sax sound track.  Put the video on your own website and hope advertising alone covers the bills.

If the above is somehow successful, de-orbit the birdbag and collect the pieces of your new satellite.

Overall:

I can't stress how critical "gain control of the satellite" and "know the exact measures of the satellite" are.  Both are certain to make hostile collection of a satellite impossible, no matter how difficult the rest of the steps are.

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I did, in fact, read the article which I posted.  

Capturing something in Space poses some interesting challenges that are worth considering.  Practically speaking, of course it would be easier to get information by penetrating ground facilities and personnel.

Simply removing and replacing an asset is easy, but getting hardware to evaluate would be really valuable.

Edited by Jonfliesgoats

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28 minutes ago, Jonfliesgoats said:

I did, in fact, read the article which I posted.  

Then i dont know why you post "In the eighties there was a race to capture/resurrect Salyut 7." just like that, implying its true.

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How to steal a satellite in 10 easy steps:

  1. Find a few hundred billions
  2. Get support of US Congress and DoD
  3. Wait a few years
  4. Roll out your brand new flying brick on the pad
  5. Find people willing to get inside
  6. Pick up the pieces of foam that fell
  7. Postpone launch a few times
  8. Launch !
  9. Land because you forgot flying brick is only capable of getting in low orbit and every interesting sat is not in low orbit
  10. Be sad (and very in debt)
Edited by Gaarst

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2 hours ago, wumpus said:

your Buran is equipped with a Canadarm, is it not?

I wonder if the CSA or whomever built the thing would even sell one to them. That'd be curious to find out.

--

Edited by Gordon Fecyk

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The hubble telecope was launched with a shuttle and catched twice later for repairs.

From that point to a successful landing doesn't look impossible.

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Would be very funny to see how they would cut off every extended part like numerous antennas, solar panels and so on (several tens of them) to fit in Shuttle cargo bay. Not an easy task.
Then trying to reenter and land with unbalanced cargo with even unknown center of mass.

Edited by kerbiloid

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I don't know what the biggest payload mass ever landed by the shuttle was. Spacelab, maybe? The most heavy version of that weighed 9 tonnes. Salyut 7 weighed 20 tonnes.

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You just need one of these...

 

image-of-James-bond-spaceships.png

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Yeah, sounds more like Bond movie plot then anything remotely real. Wouldn't it be easier to just give that money to good ol' CIA to retrieve desired information via good ol' humint?
 

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Quite simple : send it some signal, try hacking into it, and then...

hack_edit.png?dl=0

Edited by YNM

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#1 you're not going to steal a sat from orbit. The DV budget is prohibitive.
#2 If you could, the trick would be to fool them. Make them think that it wasn't stolen, was stolen by someone else, or (best of all) get them to steal it for you. Or, you know... make them *think* it was stolen when it actually wasn't :D

See... "magicians" don't actually practice magic. They just dupe people into thinking they witnessed something other than what actually happened.

Best,
-Slashy

 

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2 hours ago, GoSlash27 said:

#1 you're not going to steal a sat from orbit. The DV budget is prohibitive.
#2 If you could, the trick would be to fool them. Make them think that it wasn't stolen, was stolen by someone else, or (best of all) get them to steal it for you. Or, you know... make them *think* it was stolen when it actually wasn't :D

See... "magicians" don't actually practice magic. They just dupe people into thinking they witnessed something other than what actually happened.

Best,
-Slashy

 

This, first you will need an shuttle type craft.
Second option would be an robot mission, this would be more complex, you would need the return craft, think an dragon 2 scaled up so its large enough with clam shell doors like the craft in the james bond movie. you would need an handler craft who you can put in the decent module, this needs to grab cut of solar panels, antennas and other extended stuff, then grab target and dock inside return module.  
To dock you would need to know the attachment points for the satellite. while boosters demand an standard interface to attach payload I guess this interface stays with the upper stage and the satellite is attached to the interface in an way who reduces weight on satellite. Getting this for an classified military satellite will be hard, if you have it you probably have the blueprints anyway. Note that this applies to the shuttle mission too even if astronauts are more flexible and can rig something. 

Mission is hardly cost effective with an shuttle. note that your are likely to need an grabber to get the target down to an orbit the shuttle can reach anyway. 
without an shuttle using the money on other espionage will be more effective. 

And no you can not blame this on somebody else. Mission would be very spectacular and visible
 

Edited by magnemoe

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13 hours ago, wumpus said:

Buran is equipped with a Canadarm, is it not?

It was equipped with twin Aist.

11 hours ago, Gordon Fecyk said:

I wonder if the CSA or whomever built the thing would even sell one to them. That'd be curious to find out.

I wonder if Buran would buy it, when there were at least four types of manipulators made in USSR/Russia.

9 hours ago, mikegarrison said:

I don't know what the biggest payload mass ever landed by the shuttle was.

By design 14.5 t.

 

P.S.

Launch a huge ball of sticky slime, make it swallow the prey and deorbit.
Slime will ablate and protect from heat, then it will flatten and decelerate, then it will soften the touchdown.
And what's even more important: nobody would believe in huge slime balls flying to orbit.

Edited by kerbiloid

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I love the orbital blob suggestion.  The problem is that any ablative goo that I can think of would be heavy.  It is conceivable to remotely paint something (apply goo) in space.

I was thinking about the crazy DV requirements of capturing a satellite.  It would certainly be difficult.

Others mention the problems in getting an evasive target and anti-tamper systems.  Running any interceptor out of DV would be a simple task.  Also, recovering a satellite to find that all the juiciest guts of the device have been obliterated by anti-tamper or self-protect/self-destruct systems would make make this a costly goose chase.

These are all solvable, but difficult problems.

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On 12/6/2016 at 11:32 PM, kerbiloid said:

It was equipped with twin Aist.

I wonder if Buran would buy it, when there were at least four types of manipulators made in USSR/Russia.

By design 14.5 t.

 

P.S.

Launch a huge ball of sticky slime, make it swallow the prey and deorbit.
Slime will ablate and protect from heat, then it will flatten and decelerate, then it will soften the touchdown.
And what's even more important: nobody would believe in huge slime balls flying to orbit.

Am i the only one imagining a giant Minecraft slime jumping into space, catching the ISS, and then going splat on the surface?

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I would recommend building some sort of laser weapon, firing it at the targets solar panels and waiting until it dies. Then the Sat can no longer resist your abduction, and you can capture it like any other derelict spacecraft

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Use a giant butterfly net. Then skewer it and put it in a glass case with a bunch of other satellites.

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