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.
This is research in its very early stages. The BBC has filmed firing tests of a prototype harpoon at Astrium UK’s Stevenage base.
Recent Israeli Synagogue Attack, a Possible False Flag? 2014 11 21 Dear Friends - I woke up yesterday morning to see a newspaper lying on the kitchen table with the front page proclaiming that five people were slain in an Israeli synagogue after a so-called "Palestinian attack." Some members of the media said that four people were killed, others said five, so it seems like that there was some confusion (or ...
Detekt: A New Malware Detection Tool That Can Expose Illegitimate State Surveillance 2014 11 21 Recent years have seen a boom in the adoption of surveillance technology by governments around the world, including spyware that provides its purchasers the unchecked ability to target remote Internet users’ computers, to read their personal emails, listen in on private audio calls, record keystrokes and passwords, and remotely activate their computer’s camera or microphone. EFF, together with Amnesty International, ...
New UK spy chief says tech giants aid terrorism, privacy not ‘absolute right’ 2014 11 21
Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ
The new head of Britain’s GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA in the U.S., said he believes privacy is not an absolute right and that tech giants must open themselves up to intelligence agencies.
“GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age,” Hannigan said. “But privacy ...
LOL: Atheist Feminist Pornographer Used as Moral Authority in T-shirt Row 2014 11 21
Dr. Matt Taylor was thrust into the headlines this last week, largely for his lead role in successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet 300 million miles from earth that travels at a speed of 85,000 mph. In short, Taylor and his colleagues pulled off one of the most amazing achievements in contemporary science and space exploration, and in a ...