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Waste Waste Space

Garbage truck' is going to collect #waste in space

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by: Moon Apple
Garbage truck' is going to collect #waste in space

The room is ready for a cleaning. There is so much junk floating around that missiles, satellites and spaceships can fly to pieces. The first garbage truck will therefore soon be transported to the universe.
The earth encircled with space waste
The chance of collisions becomes greater, says Ron Noomen, assistant professor of astrodynamics and satellite systems at TU Delft. "Artmen who no longer function sometimes keep floating around or they fall apart from old age. Sometimes leftovers of fuel or batteries explode in satellites whose useful life is at an end. For example, rocket stages also float through space. With more and more rockets, satellites and space debris, it is understandable that objects can crash against each other. Even a 2-millimeter particle can cause enormous damage to a satellite."

There is an estimated 7,500 tonnes of junk above our heads. That is why the British send a 'rubbish collection truck' into space this winter. Their invention, the CubeSail, is a three kilo box with no garbage collectors in fluorescent jackets, but a kind of safety net. The CubeSail can be attached to satellites or rocket motors. When they are no longer needed, a screen of five by five meters is unfolded out of the box. The space waste flies into orbits in which the still working satellites and space stations float.

Invention

Since the then Soviet Union launched in October 1957 the Sputnik which was the first satellite in space. Roughly six thousand were followed. Half of these satellites are still operational according to the American space agency NASA.
A large part of the satellites is intended for communication, the GPS on the navigation system in the car, or observing, for example, the oceans or forests on the earth. Armed conflicts are also being sent more and more through space. Countries use their satellites for precision guidance of weapons or for the control of unmanned aircraft.

In the way

When the satellites and missiles are at the end of their lifespan, they drop towards the earth, where they eventually burn in the atmosphere or, in the case of large specimens, crash into the ocean. The decline is so slow that they get in the way of working satellites and spaceships.
The CubeSail can offer a solution to that problem, but according to Noomen, waste will always float in space. "If the debris has already gone, it sometimes takes hundreds of years. Therefore, in manned space flights, capsules are provided with an extra thick skin around the spaceship. The layer is not resistant to collisions with large debris, but it keeps small waste reasonably good.''
If the debris starts to decline, it could take hundreds of years

Traffic accident

In 2009, the area experienced its first serious traffic accident. At about 800 kilometers above Siberia, an American and a Russian communications satellite collided. As a result of the collision two large clouds of rubble arose.
Agreements have been made for international waters and airspace on earth. A well-functioning treaty about what is and is not allowed in space does not yet exist. Russia and China proposed in 2008 to draw up a code of conduct, but the United States was bothering. Later, Moscow and Beijing rejected a proposal from the US and the European Union.
In the meantime, space organizations from many countries have agreed to cancel deposited thrusters and satellites that are no longer being used. They return to the earth in a controlled manner or are taken to an orbit where they do not pose a threat to space traffic.

Polluters

That appointment was also badly needed, says Noomen. "The amount of waste could grow because everyone did what they wanted. Space agencies now adhere to the strict rules to limit the amount of debris left in space. The question is whether the emerging commercial space companies will do so. If they just leave their internet satellites lying around, cleaning will look like mopping with an open tap.'
Even though debris is the biggest problem in space travel, the polluters seem to still find the costs of cleaning up the debris a bigger problem than the rubble itself."

Test

The British University of Surrey is now taking the lead, even if it is a trial. Under the name 'RemoveDebris' is now a 17 million euro space shuttle ready that serves as a garbage truck. The CubeSail will be connected to the international space station ISS.
There the British will try different techniques to clean up the waste. There is a harpoon for bringing in large pieces. Also 'test waste' is used, which is taken away and brought back to earth. The intention is that future garbage trucks with debris will be burn out in the atmosphere.

Gerben van 't Hof

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I'm interested in everything that has to do with sustainability. My house is solar powered and I have my own water supply and filtering system.  I grow my own vegetables and fruit. Most of the time I go on the road by bicycle and for long distances I use public transport.  
I'm interested in everything that has to do with sustainability. My house is solar powered and I have my own water supply and filtering system.  I grow my own vegetables and fruit. Most of the time I go on the road by bicycle and for long distances I use public transport.  
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