The satellites fell into each other, the orbit is just a cloud of shrapnel. We can't catch them all and won't be able to launch anything for the next 500 years or so.
We're grounded, for being a bad civilization not thinking about consequences.
Infrastructurally it's not good, but it's not an all-out apocalypse. Planes still fly, ships still sail, even if slower. No weather monitoring or satellite photography though.
What interests me in this world though is the powerful symbolism and the philosophical, spiritual meaning:
We're grounded. Literally. Figuratively.
We have the next few hundred years to sort out our problems of being an unsustainable civilization without orbital umbrellas, just by _being better_. This can breed a new, powerful social movement, with a huge and grim reminder visible every day: the skies beyond are not for us. Not for the next few generations.
I think such a world has a huge potential for #solarpunk optimism: the universality of the belief that we need to be better. Getting us out of our stagnation.
No more Muskian dreams of Mars, our hopes for Space shattered for half a millenium at least. No asteroid mining.
We need to do better with what we have.
We are grounded, but we are alive and we can fix our mistakes.
I have a collection of realistic story ideas ( https://alxd.org/22-solarpunk-communities-and-story-hooks.html ), but I think there is a lot to be explored in how Big Events and their effect on societies.
An event like this could change a lot by showing people that we can think differently, the same way Covid showed us we don't need to be only about work and infinite growth.
@lakoja I think there's a lot of space for exploration in this.
There's a point why it's so hard to imagine a better future, a world where we deal with Big Problems: we tend to default to apocalypses.
Instead, we could explore: what if we take a traumatic societal event and treat it as a lesson?
If we have this research done, stories ready in the popular culture, the next time something like this happens, more people can start thinking like this, without fatalism and giving up.
@alxd I think we'd do a *lot* of high altitude plane based observation for weather forecasting and such. It's very valuable data.
It could be interesting what we do in the atmosphere.
@LovesTha indeed! There is A LOT we can do engineering-wise in a world with no satellites, but for me the question is: what would happen with the societies? How would our culture change, knowing that we are _grounded_?
@alxd as leaving the planet is such a far distant idea, I don't think much changes. SciFi starts with and explaination of how we solved the cloud of debris.
Maybe it helps a little with climate change by reflecting a bit more sun light?
@alxd Being in a very much higher orbit, geostationary satellites wouldn't be affected, and most would be able to continue working for years (being solar-powered).
@michaelgraaf we wouldn't be able to replace them though - and it might take centuries to clean up the lower orbit.
Again, I'm not talking about an engineering impossibility, I want to focus more on the spiritual / philosophical issue of "we are grounded".
Maybe this would encourage us to be less optimizing and technosolutionist - and more considerate?
@anarchistbicycleclub I'll check it out! It does happen a few decades / centuries after such an event, right?
Do you know about any story which explores the time directly after? I think this might be the most interesting, the spiritual change, especially if it's not played as a straight-out collapse, but something like "The Setback Times".
@alxd i havent read the novel, but i believe it is about a society just getting back to space a few centuries after kessler syndrome.
@alxd tbh i don't think it'll put weather monitoring to a halt? Like most of the stuff is LEO because that's cheapest to do, collisions will kick some stuff down/up, but doubt it will really reach geostationary orbits that much?
Wow that's a cool map https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/93/Solar_system_delta_v_map.svg
So ~1.5km/s LEO-GEO Like i suppose an equatorial versus a polar orbit collision does have a ~8k/ms * √2 ~ 13km/s speed difference, like it can kick things up, but it'll be inefficient and random.
@alxd lots will be in too eliptical orbits intersecting the earth.
And most collisions will be at way lower relative velocities. At ten degrees difference between the satelite orbits the relative velocity is "only" 1.4km/s.
I also suspect it'll be possible to expensively armor satelites and navigate a route through. Maybe not with a great success rate.
Anyway, feel like a party pooper, suppose people can still write the story, Suspension of disbelief?
@jasper I don't think it's party pooping, since the Kessler Syndrome wouldn't kill a civilization, but it would change a narrative.
We could see it as the end of the world, we could see it as "another Great Challenge", or we could think about it as a lesson. I'm the most interested in the last option, giving up armoring the satellites and not going into technosolutionism.
Something big happened. Can we change how we live, develop, progress?
Covid did that to us, a lot of people changed.
Back to INS navigation it is.
This will also tremendously impact warfare as we know it today, that are dependent on low-orbit satellites for navigation, communication and Intel.
There will be an upshot if this happens: It will be much harder for communist China to oppress its people, since it uses US satellites to transmit the data to do so.
Must be very long glass fiber cables yo! https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/23/china-uses-us-built-satellites-for-military-operations-police-report.html
The capitalist world of course gladly took their word when they called themselves communist, for obvious reasons.
But it's not even those authoritarian states of the past we're talking about. Modern (authoritarian)China, and it's economic success is largely due basically expansion of special economic zones run mostly by free market.
@alxd more importantly: no GPS (assuming the Kessler cloud extends that far up. GPS sats are in MEO). I think people underestimate the impact GPS had on any kind of long distance transportation
@alxd probably wouldn’t be sextants: automatic Star trackers that work in daylight have existed for decades in military applications. But personal navigation would get messy real quick, and forget any kind of search and rescue
A small, intentional community for poets, authors, and every kind of writer.