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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Scientists have proposed to deal with space debris harpoon


British company Astrium UK proposed to deal with space debris in orbit with a special harpoon.

Debris called fragments of old spacecraft left Earth orbit. Currently, the Joint U.S. Strategic Command monitors 19 thousand objects in orbit, the size of which more than 10 centimeters. According to experts objects with a diameter greater than a centimeter in space on the order of magnitude - more than 600,000. Due to the high velocity (and, consequently, the high kinetic energy), even small pieces of apparatus can be hazardous to spacecraft.


Astrium UK company develops special harpoon, which is scheduled to be installed on the spacecraft. It will be close enough (about 20 meters) to the garbage, shoot at him from the harpoon, and then reduce a piece of debris from orbit, so that it burned down in the earth's atmosphere.

At present, the laboratory Astrium UK is being tested harpoon. A test piece of aluminum target stands, simulating a fragment of the spacecraft. Creators harpoon say that the main challenge is to the shot was not too much - or the shot can destroy a spaceship, which will increase the amount of debris in orbit.

Scientists estimate the amount of space debris in orbit: about 19,000 objects

Project of Astrium UK is not the only one of its kind - now many companies are developing systems for the purification of the orbit of space debris. For example, researchers at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, Switzerland-with staff on the system CleanSpace One. The essence of the system is to create kamikaze satellites that will grab the garbage and burn with him in the dense layers of the atmosphere.

In the U.S., the 90-ies of the last century, there are projects on the use of laser cleaning of the orbit. Laser irradiation of metal fragments should cause its partial evaporation. As a result, should be the driving force that will bring a piece of orbit. Recently, American scientists have proposed the use of a laser to clean the 5-kilowatt, which is comparable with the power of the lasers used in telescopes with adaptive optics.

In turn, Japan to clean debris from orbit suggests using machines equipped with special nets. In 2011, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has entered into an agreement with Nitto Seimo - largest manufacturer of fishing nets - traps for the production of space debris. The company has created technology to weave metallic networks, which, according to experts, are suitable for JAXA.

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