Design to ’harpoon’ old satellites, space junk
2012 10 03

By Jonathan Amos | BBCNews

UK engineers are developing a system to harpoon rogue or redundant satellites and pull them out of the sky.


It is a response to the ever growing problem of orbital junk - old pieces of hardware that continue to circle the Earth and which now pose a collision threat to operational spacecraft.

The harpoon would be fired at the hapless satellite from close range.

A propulsion pack tethered to the projectile would then pull the junk downwards, to burn up in the atmosphere.

"Space has become a critical part of our infrastructure - from weather forecasting and Earth observation, to GPS and telecommunications," said the harpoon’s designer, Dr Jaime Reed, from Astrium UK.

"Space junk poses a real threat to these vital services if we do nothing about it, and so it’s very important we develop capture technologies to remove some of this material. Studies have shown that taking out just a few large items each year can help us get on top of the problem."

Dr Reed’s proposal is for a barbed spear about 30cm in length. It would be mounted on a "chaser satellite" that would edge to within 100m of a junk object.

Pictures sent to the ground would then be used to assess the target, before the chaser was moved to within perhaps 20m to take a shot.

Once the harpoon is hooked through the skin of the rogue satellite or rocket stage, the chaser could either pull on a trailing polymer cord itself or deploy a separate thruster unit to do the job of dragging the aimless drifter towards Earth.

Explosive concern

This is research in its very early stages. The BBC has filmed firing tests of a prototype harpoon at Astrium UK’s Stevenage base.

[...]




Read the full article at: bbc.co.uk





Related Articles
NASA twin satellites to probe mysteries of the Van Allen belts
Huge, Mysteriously Silent Satellite Spotted by Another Spacecraft
Proposed Satellite Would Beam Solar Power to Earth
Top-secret US spy satellite blasts - why did the US blackout footage of launch?
How Huffing and Puffing Could Remove Space Junk
Space Junk Problem Solution


Latest News from our Front Page

Ancient Roman Nanotechnology Inspires Next-Generation Holograms for Information Storage
2014 10 21
The Lycurgus Cup, as it is known due to its depiction of a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman chalice that changes colour depending on the direction of the light upon it. It baffled scientists ever since the glass chalice was acquired by the British Museum in the 1950s, as they could not work ...
Rapid Geomagnetic Reversal Possibility: Confirmed
2014 10 21
From the video: "The scientists who conducted the study are still unsure why the magnetic field is weakening, but one likely reason is the Earth’s magnetic poles are getting ready to flip, said Rune Floberghagen, the ESA’s Swarm mission manager. In fact, the data suggest magnetic north is moving toward Siberia." Tune into Red Ice Radio: Ben Davidson - Suspicious0bservers: Space Weather ...
Georgia Guide Stone 2014 cube stone removal
2014 10 21
From: Youtube: Was it all just a gag? it seems the cube stone just happens to be made out of the same Elberton granite that the rest of this morbid monument is made from.
Secret Project Created Weaponized Ebola In South Africa In The 1980s
2014 10 21
“No records are available to confirm that the biological agents were destroyed.” Operating out of South Africa during the Apartheid era in the early 1980’s, Dr. Wouter Basson launched a secret bioweapons project called Project Coast. The goal of the project was to develop biological and chemical agents that would either kill or sterilize the black population and assassinate political enemies. ...
Controlling the American Mind: The Viral Liturgical Psychodrama
2014 10 20
In order to successfully navigate the raging sea of media shit storm, one must be ever-mindful of the overall designs of mass media without getting lost in endless details and rabbit trails that will be forgotten in a month. Remember Bowe Bergdahl? Remember how media was furiously researching his back story to make details match-up, all of which ended up ...
More News »