Spacecraft company SpaceX Dragon, launched into earth orbit April 2, with 2.6 tons of cargo for the crew of the International space station, among other things, carries with it one very interesting spacecraft – space garbage collector prototype developed by a group of European engineers.
Currently in orbit is several thousand different satellites, as well as hundreds of thousands of different pieces of debris remaining after several thousand rocket launches over the past few decades. Sooner or later from all of this “good” we have to get rid of, otherwise we risk all to stay without space.
The only solution to this problem would be to sweep the orbits from space junk. But to say much easier than done. A lot of different organizations, including the American, Chinese and Japanese space agencies are developing their own prototypes of space janitors and trash catchers. This Monday to the ISS went to one of these cleaners. It was designed by British engineers from the Space centre University of Surrey, and is called RemoveDEBRIS. In the coming weeks the machine will be tested of their capabilities.
Assembly space garbage collector RemoveDEBRIS
The interesting thing is that space cleaner is equipped with several different systems, the effectiveness of which remains to be verified. Inside are several tiny cube-Sats, which will serve as targets. The main satellite will be to catch them using the network and harpoon.
Both of these devices were chosen as the most effective methods of dealing with space debris, but this is never tested. The real test of their effectiveness under field conditions will allow to collect information which will be useful for the development of future missions for cleaning up the orbit of the planet.
After completion of the experiment apparatus RemoveDEBRIS release “of the braking sail”, which will tighten it back into the planet’s atmosphere where it will burn. If the mission proves successful, as I expect the developers of the device, RemoveDEBRIS can be the beginning of future missions that will be able to make our orbit a little safer.