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If all satellites suddenly stopped working, the consequences would be widespread and significant. Satellites play crucial roles in various aspects of modern life, including communication, navigation, weather forecasting, scientific research, and national security.

Satellite communication is integral to global telecommunications networks. If satellites ceased functioning, communication channels relying on them, such as satellite phones, television broadcasts, internet services, and GPS systems, would be severely disrupted or rendered inoperative.

In other words, we would be, as our contributor Paddy would say, " fooked. " 

It was pointed out a few days ago, that GPS has become very important in today's world.  How our food is delivered, our packages make it to our homes and how we even get to visit Grandma; No one owns a map anymore. It is all GPS. 

So what would happen if satellites went down? It is interesting to drill down into history and see how it all started.  And it all started with the Space Race... 

The first artificial satellite, named Sputnik 1, was launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957. Sputnik 1 was a small spherical satellite equipped with radio transmitters that emitted radio signals, allowing it to be tracked from Earth. Its successful launch marked the beginning of the space age and initiated the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War era. Sputnik 1 orbited the Earth for approximately three months before re-entering the atmosphere and burning up on January 4, 1958.

 

After the launch of Sputnik 1, the United States intensified its efforts to catch up with the Soviet Union in space exploration. On January 31, 1958, just a few months after Sputnik 1, the United States successfully launched its first satellite, Explorer 1. Explorer 1 was the first American satellite and discovered the Van Allen radiation belts, which are zones of charged particles trapped by Earth's magnetic field.

Following these early successes, both the Soviet Union and the United States continued to advance their space programmes, achieving significant milestones such as manned spaceflights, lunar landings, and the establishment of space stations.

The space race between the two superpowers culminated with the United States landing astronauts on the Moon as part of NASA's Apollo program. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the lunar surface. 

Since then, space exploration has expanded beyond national competition to include international collaboration involving multiple countries and space agencies. Today, numerous countries have launched satellites for various purposes, including scientific research, telecommunications, Earth observation, navigation, and national security.

 

Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites are used for navigation by vehicles, aircraft, ships, and even individuals using smartphones. Without GPS, navigation would become significantly more challenging, impacting transportation, logistics, and emergency services.

 

Many military operations rely on satellite technology for communication, reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting. A disruption in satellite functionality could compromise military capabilities and pose strategic challenges for defense forces.

Numerous industries depend on satellite services for their operations, including banking, agriculture, transportation, and energy. The loss of satellite communications and navigation could disrupt supply chains, financial transactions, and other business activities, leading to economic losses and potential market instability.

Satellites are controlled by a combination of government agencies, private companies, and international organizations, depending on their purpose and ownership. 

Government space agencies, such as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in the United States, Roscosmos in Russia, ESA (European Space Agency), CNSA (China National Space Administration), and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), often launch and operate satellites for scientific research, Earth observation, exploration, and national security purposes.

Military forces in various countries operate satellites for reconnaissance, surveillance, communication, and navigation purposes. These military satellites are typically controlled by the respective defense departments or agencies. 

Private companies own and operate many satellites for telecommunications, broadcasting, remote sensing, and other commercial purposes. Examples of major commercial satellite operators include SpaceX, OneWeb, SES, Intelsat, and Iridium. 

International organisations, such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (ITSO), play roles in coordinating satellite communications frequencies, spectrum allocation, and ensuring equitable access to satellite services. Some satellites are operated by research institutions, universities, and scientific organisations for specific research missions, including space exploration, Earth observation, and astronomical studies. Which is pretty much gobbledy gook to me. 

And I have come to the realisation that satellites control my life. And yours. 

We all talk about the WEF, the UN and WHO. But, without satellites, I have to wonder. 

With the flick of the switch..............................

“You wake up and turn on the TV. Your usual shows aren't airing. You flip on the radio and learn that Paris and Tokyo stock markets have closed. Back on TV CNN is trying to use Skype in an attempt to cover what's happening in the world following a solar super storm.

In a US bunker, the military has lost contact with armed drones flying over hostile areas. Loss of global communication satellites makes it difficult to send commands and surveillance data to soldiers, ships and aircraft, rendering them vulnerable to attack.

Throughout the day more challenges arise. First responders don't have access to their location systems. Delays in ground and air traffic begin to develop. Systems that depend on GPS1time stamps – ATM2s, power grids, computer-data and cell-phone networks begin to fail, and the cloud becomes unstable. The internet soon collapses.”  - Pål Brekke.

 Of course there is that pesky thing known as the Kessler Syndrome. 

The Kessler Syndrome, proposed by NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978, refers to a theoretical scenario in which the density of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) is so high that collisions between objects could generate a cascade of debris, leading to even more collisions in a chain reaction. This would eventually render space in certain orbits unusable due to the high risk of collisions and the proliferation of debris.

The phenomenon is often compared to a scenario akin to a "domino effect" in space. It could be caused by a defunct satellite, spent rocket stage, or any other space debris, colliding with an active satellite or another piece of debris. This collision shatters the objects involved, creating numerous smaller fragments. The debris resulting from the initial collision spreads out in all directions, increasing the likelihood of further collisions. These collisions can occur at high speeds, causing more fragmentation. 

As the number of fragments increases, so does the likelihood of further collisions. This creates a cascade effect where each collision generates more debris, leading to more collisions, and so on. With enough debris generated, it becomes increasingly difficult for satellites to maneuver safely through space without being struck by debris, leading to the destruction of operational satellites. As more collisions occur, the density of debris in orbit increases exponentially, making certain orbits essentially impassable for satellites and spacecraft.

The other big concern is that thing we all dread: a massive cyber attack. 

When President Trump announced The United States Space Force, a separate branch of the U.S. military, in December 2019, people laughed. 

I wonder who is laughing now? 

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