Are satellites nowadays designed so that if one fails or its orbit degrades the scientists involved can send it various codes so that it will starts to 'beak-up' into smaller and smaller parts where when the parts are small enough they burn up in the atmosphere. So this automated 'forced breaking up' until its parts are small enough,could be a safety feature for satellites. Is this feasible?


No - satellites typically do not contain self-destruct devices. Malfunctions would be a) expensive and b) create lots of space junk.

What they do when a satellite is expected to enter is they will start it tumbling - the rotation helps the thing break up due to the re-entry forces hitting different parts.

If the satellite is defunct or has no maneuvering fuel remaining, it just burns up as-is hopefully not hitting anything important.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't mean a self- destruct device. I meant a set of special encrypted codes that could be sent to the satellite ordering it to disassemble into many smaller sections. $\endgroup$ – 201044 Jan 16 '15 at 6:56
  • $\begingroup$ That would, for all intents and purposes, qualify as a 'self-destruct device' - it is now destroyed, and it required no outside assistance. It doesn't have to be explosives, that's just a common method because it's cheap, fast and effective. $\endgroup$ – paul Jan 20 '15 at 7:46
  • $\begingroup$ But if the satellite was caused by remote control to break up into so many pieces so it would all disintegrate we would never hear about a satellite falling to Earth on the News (and that it might be a threat to someone). The fact we have heard about 2 or 3 satellites falling to the Earth recently means they do not use this method I describe. $\endgroup$ – 201044 Jan 22 '15 at 5:53
  • $\begingroup$ Could a failing satellite be made to 'disassemble' ( by remote control ) into many little pieces that would definately burn up in the atmosphere? $\endgroup$ – 201044 May 8 '15 at 16:28

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