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

Devil’s Deal: US-Backed Syrian Rebels Already Signed Pact with ISIS Prior to Haines Beheading
2014 09 17
While Washington considers appropriating half a billion in funds to the Syrian rebels, we now learn that opposition groups the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and al Qaeda affiliate ‘al Nusra Front’, have officially aligned themselves with ISIS… Despite grand words by US President Obama and British PM David Cameron, here’s what’s really behind their plan to bomb ISIS in Syria… In a ...
World War III for Dummies
2014 09 16
A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding the Present World Situation. 1998 - 2000 Powerful elites and influential think tanks forecast a coming period of American aggression. Zbigniew Brzezinski speaks for the Globalist faction of the western PRC (Predatory Ruling Class) in ’The Grand Chessboard’, a book in which he openly advocates for bolder American action in dominating the Eurasian land mass. During this ...
Rotherham child-sex victim confronts her alleged abuser in the street... but SHE is arrested
2014 09 16
A victim of Rotherham’s child sex abuse scandal confronted a man she says groomed her - but was left shocked when she was the one arrested. The woman was shocked when she saw the man walking through the town’s centre on Friday and decided to challenge him over the allegations. But she was tackled by two police officers and pushed up against ...
Slaves of Charleston - Beyond Wealth of Jewish South Carolina
2014 09 15
Founded in 1749 in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, the Beth Elohim Synagogue is one of the very earliest synagogues in America. While other synagogues and congregations are also now a part of Charleston city life, Beth Elohim Synagogue is the oldest one in the area and serves as the repository for certain historical artifacts of Jewish life in the city. ...
Martian meteorite yields more evidence of the possibility of life on Mars
2014 09 15
A tiny fragment of Martian meteorite 1.3 billion years old is helping to make the case for the possibility of life on Mars, say scientists. The finding of a ‘cell-like’ structure, which investigators now know once held water, came about as a result of collaboration between scientists in the UK and Greece. Their findings are published in the latest edition ...
More News »