A Long Time Ago, in A Junk Removal Service Far Far Away

A Long Time Ago, in A Junk Removal Service Far Far Away

A Long Time Ago, in A Junk Removal Service Far Far Away

When you hear the term “junk removal” you tend to think of common every day problems, like the old couch you need to get rid of or of that leftover construction debris laying around your backyard. But look up a bit and you will find a growing junk problem: Space junk.

Space junk is a growing problem for both NASA and private space agencies that launch satellites into space. Space junk is basically the leftovers from 50 years of space exploration. Ideally, space junk eventually burns up in Earth’s atmosphere. But a lot of space junk doesn’t lose orbit and instead remains a threat to satellites and space craft. 

But according to Huffington Post one company is thinking about space junk removal:


By: Leonard David 
Published: 03/04/2013 05:08 AM EST on SPACE.com

A proposed space-junk removal system would hop from one piece of debris to the next without burning much fuel, potentially making a de-clutter mission economically feasible with current technologiy.

The TAMU Space Sweeper with Sling-Sat, or 4S for short, would harness the momentum imparted by capturing and ejecting one object to slingshot on to the next chunk of space junk, its developers say.

“The goal of this mission is to remove as many pieces of debris with the minimum amount of fuel,” said Daniele Mortari of Texas A&M University.



The most technically and politically sound idea is a simple rendezvous mission, during which a clean-up craft would travel to and de-orbit debris objects one at a time, Missel said. But such a mission would burn loads of fuel to get between widely spaced targets, making it “fatally plagued by inefficiency,” he added. 

The 4S system, which Missel and Mortari are developing, aims to correct this fatal flaw. It would snare debris at the end of a spinning satellite, then fling the object down to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

The spacecraft would harness the momentum exchanged during both of these actions to cruise over to the next piece of space junk on its list, minimizing fuel use and extending its operational life to the point that such a mission might be practical.

Work on 4S this year includes looks at hardware options, Mortari said, and further optimization of the idea. 

Green Clean Junk Removal Service is keeping its feet firmly planted on terra firma for now. But maybe some day we’ll look towards the stars.

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