I How big can a satellite be and still be assured to burn up completely on reentry?

  • Thread starter swampwiz
  • Start date
I was reading about SpaceX wanting to put up 5K satellites, with these put in a low enough orbit that they would need to be periodically boosted to stay up, and simply falling out of the sky within a few months if they malfunction or run out of fuel. This makes me wonder about how small a satellite would need to be to be assured of burning up completely - lest we get man-made "meteors".
 
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Size alone is a meaningless criterion. You need to know the density and general shape. For example, a HUGE array of solar panels would burn up on reentry but the same mass as a solid dense sphere might not.
 
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IIRC, Skylab showered parts of Australia with its components. Low density stuff just fluttered down, titanium pressure tanks played 'drop bear'...
 

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