Published: Вт, Июня 26, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

International Space Station Launches First Spacecraft To Clean Up Space Junk

International Space Station Launches First Spacecraft To Clean Up Space Junk

The mission to clear space junk using harpoons, guide sails and dragnets called the RemoveDebris has started with its experiments in low-Earth orbit (LEO) and has been launched from the International Space Station (ISS). Different organizations have different amounts of junk that they're tracking, but the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) tracks over 23,000 large amounts of debris larger than a softball, and it's suspected that there are countless more tiny bits of debris which are impossible to track.

The RemoveDebris satellite was created by European company Airbus and was sent to the International Space Station by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in April.

Airbus helped build three of the four experiments on board the RemoveDebris spacecraft, notes the report. It aims to release a satellite into orbit to test out various technologies aimed at capturing space waste. And if all goes well, there will be additional tests, including a vision-based navigation system that uses cameras and LiDaR technology to observe CubeSats that will be released from the main spacecraft. "The experiments will all be carried out below the orbit of the ISS". "We will need three to four weeks for each experiment".

RemoveDEBRIS attempts to discover which methods are most effective at capturing and destroying debris.

"The sail produces a significant amount of drag so that the spacecraft slows down and its orbit decays much faster than it would without the sail", said Aglietti.

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Ideally, RemoveDEBRIS will be the first of many satellites with nets and harpoons to collect space junk.

Aglietti said he expects the space industry to closely watch the experiments.

So for now, we'll just focus on the bits of debris large enough to harpoon. It will heat up the space debris with a beam, vaporize it and finally evaporate it. Satomi Kawamoto, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), said in a conference last year that more than 100 objects need to be removed from LEO at the rate of five per year to stop the proliferation of fragments resulting from in-orbit collisions and explosions. "We will be able to see for the first time how these technologies work in the space environment". Instead from displacing it in outer space, the satellite will dump it in Earth's atmosphere. The Britain-built satellite, named RemoveDEBRIS mission, is one of the world's first attempts to tackle the build-up of unsafe space debris orbiting the Earth, the British space agency said in a statement late on Friday.

However, the agency later made a decision to use a robotic arm instead of the harpoon and net, as the arm can be repurposed for orbital servicing missions, Luisa Innocenti, head of ESA's Clean Space Initiative, said past year. "If successful, the technologies found in RemoveDEBRIS could be included in other missions in the very near future".

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