Why is the ISS on that particular orbit?

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Why is the ISS on that particular orbit?
« on: 03/11/2011 18:01:03 »
JP  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris,

I was just wondering about the ISS.  It look like it is flying from South West to North East direction.  I was just wondering why that specific direction.  This mean the people experience 15 sunrises / sunsets every day.  Isn't that confusing for them up there? Would it not make more sense if it ran like a static satellite, and let it "hover" over USA?  Then they will have natural day & nights.  Won't it be easier for the shuttle vehicles to reach them for maintenance etc.  IS there a specific reason why they orbit in the direction they do now?

Hope it make sense what I'm asking.

Japie, Johannesburg, South Africa

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 03/11/2011 18:01:03 by _system »


Offline abacus9900

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Why is the ISS on that particular orbit?
« Reply #1 on: 03/11/2011 19:56:56 »

The orbit permits all the countries co-operating in the project easy access for shuttling crews and supplies. Also, at this orbit 85% of the earth can be observed.


Offline Soul Surfer

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Why is the ISS on that particular orbit?
« Reply #2 on: 03/11/2011 20:37:24 »
These are very good reasons for putting the ISS where it is.  There are also very good reasons for not putting a manned satellite in a geosynchronous orbit.  Firstly it is much higher and requires a lot more energy to get anything there.  Secondly it is right in the middle of the radiation belt and it is a very dangerous place for living things.  Communications satellites have to be radiation hardened to survive in that area.

Finally the space shuttle could not get that high with any useful load and that was essential for lifting the big bits up there.
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