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The European Space Agency sets its sights on harpooning space debris

RATE THIS! +35
Posted in Science on 26th Jun, 2014 01:27 AM by AlexMuller

In 2021, as part of its Clean Space Initiative, ESA plans to launch the e.DeOrbit mission. The aim of this mission is to clean up the important polar orbits between altitudes of 800 to 1,000 km (500 to 625 mil) that face the prospect of becoming unusable due to the increasing buildup of space debris.

 

The ESA has now announced plans to examine the potential for the mission to use space harpoons to capture large items, such as derelict satellites and the upper stages of rockets. The ESA has previously revealed it is considering a number of approaches to meet the challenge of capturing and securing space debris. These include snaring the debris in a net, securing it with clamping mechanisms, or grabbing hold of it using robotic arms. Another option is a tethered harpoon, which would pierce the debris with a high-energy impact before reeling it in.

 
Such an approach wouldn't be applicable for smaller debris, but is aimed at reeling in uncontrolled multitonne objects that threaten to fragment when colliding with other objects, resulting in debris clouds that would steadily increase in density due to the Kessler syndrome.

Tags: spaceESAspace debrisorbit

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-06-26
+4
ESA is taking part in clearing the space debris that could build into a big problem. Great to do it as soon as possible
3 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-06-26
+1
Yes, something needs to be done. Decades of launches have left Earth surrounded by a halo of space junk: more than 17 000 trackable objects larger than a coffee cup, which threaten working missions with catastrophic collision. Such items are also time bombs:they risk exploding due to leftover fuel or partially charged batteries heated up by orbital sunlight. Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-06-26
+3
I agree. The resulting debris clouds would make these vital orbits much more hazardous and expensive to use, and follow-on collisions may eventually trigger a chain reaction of breakups. The only way to control the debris population across key low orbits is to remove large items such as derelict satellites and launcher upper stages. Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-06-26
+2
This mission to clean space junk looks inevitable but the challenge is enormous. I hope that this is a promising start and can be developed into a successful technology Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-06-26
+1
Several options have been considered to clean the space and this is good. One of them, throw-nets or tentacles-clamping mechanism or robotic arms, could work well!
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-06-26
+2
In another project, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will develop a net. With a company that manufactures fishing equipment, it developed a wire net that will generate a magnetic field that will attract nearby space debris. Interesting! Reply
Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-06-26
+0
ESA is taking part in clearing the space debris that could build into a big problem. Great to do it as soon as possible Reply


 

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