How do satellites get put into orbit? They must be organized in some way so they don’t crash into eachother.


How do satellites get put into orbit? They must be organized in some way so they don’t crash into eachother.

In: 77

You’re correct, they are organized! Highly organized. You actually have to coordinate with various authorities to secure your place in the sky. Certain satellite positions can be highly sought after, especially for things like communications satellites over a specific area.

We know space, satellites, and how orbits work down to extremely exact functions, and satellites are actually flown to stay within their orbits as they stay alive to maintain their positions. Many satellites are designed to only last say 20 years or so. At the end of a satellite’s life, they generally save enough power and fuel to fly into what is called a “graveyard orbit” basically they go to an orbit where they can die and not impact anything else even though we can’t control it anymore.

However, space is really really stupidly big. So, while stuff is placed in specific orbits and locations, there is pretty much always incredible amounts of space in between satellites so that there are not issues. The bigger issue is say a satellite blowing up and spreading debris all over, which could hit other satellites, and cause them to break up, and so on.

There are actually several agencies and even companies, that keep track of satellite & debris orbits.

All together they usually mostly “play nice” with each other, share a lot of information. And so around that mutual willingness to share data between agencies and companies, a kind of de facto system has evolved in which everyone mostly stays out the way of everyone else.


As for which agencies specifically…

Probably the organization that tracks the most satellites and debris, I am guessing, is probably the US Department of Defense’s United State Space Surveillance Network (SSN).

Control and operations of the SSN has recently been transferred over to the new US military branch: Space Force.


In addition, NASA does a lot of work and tracking on this, with their Orbital Debris Program Office.


As well, you’ve got NORAD:

North American Aerospace Defense Command.

This is actually a joint US-Canada military command operation that’s been running since the late 1950’s!

Which means I guess they’re probably the oldest organization that does orbital and space tracking. They too give away and publish a lot of orbital tracking data, by issuing regular report-files.

Interestingly, NORAD has expanded their monitoring to including North American aircraft-flight air space, as well as monitoring for drug-trafficking air craft.

Yes, there is quite a bit of organization that has to be done to ensure nobody crashes into anything else up there, and it’s one of the things that NASA and the US Space Command take very seriously. The chances of two satellites smacking into each other accidentially, however, is *extremely* low.

“Space is big. *Really* big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.” – *The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy*

That being said, it’s true. Most satellites aren’t very big, but for the sake of making things easy let’s say they’re all the size of a school bus. Your average school bus is 35 feet long. The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles at the equator. That means you can line 3,756,493 school busses end-to-end along the equator and still have a little bit of space left over.

Now, a circular geosynchronous orbit is at an altitude of 26,194 miles (give or take). That’s a circumference of 164,582 miles, or 24,828,370 school busses with a little bit of space left over.

There’s *plenty* of room up there.

Yes. There are many different types of orbits, and permissions are given out to various slots within those various orbits.

Satellites are put on rockets and get off the rocket when the scientists tell them to.

Then the satellites go where the scientists tell them to and the scientists tell them to not hit each other.